Jodi-rae Kortje, Ph.D., is a 2016 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University

Dr. Kortje [center] at her Dissertation Defense, with Dissertation Chair, Dr. Laurien Alexandre [right], and Committee Member, Dr. Jon Wergin [left].

Dissertation Committee

  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Sally Thorne, Ph.D., Committee Member


moral distress, nursing leadership, interpretive description, experiences, strategies, lessons, recommendations, Canada, ethics

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Moral distress in nursing has been studied across many care contexts, yet there is a paucity of research on the experience among health care leaders.The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences and perceptions of moral distress in nurse leaders.This study used an interpretive description approach interviewing 32 Canadian nurse leaders about their experiences and perceptions of moral distress within their role as a leader and nurse.A constant comparative and thematic analysis process revealed three thematic patterns:(a) leaders suffer moral distress in similar and different ways from their employees; (b) relationships matter in the midst of coping and emerging from moral distress; and (c) navigation through moral distress requires institutional, professional, and personal strategies.These patterns were important structural components in identifying the overarching metaphor of an ethical whirlwind that contextualized the experience as a vortex of constantly changing variables in dynamic interplay on a micro (patient/individual), meso (organizational), and macro (community) level.Findings were extracted from the participants’ interpretations of their experiences and from the interpretation of the data that illuminated experiential issues of importance to nurse leaders in relation to moral distress.On the basis of study findings, resiliency, resourcefulness, and self-awareness assisted nursing leaders in navigating and meaning-making of their experiences.Recommendations for leadership practice, policy implications, and future research are suggested to help diminish conditions that produce moral distress.This dissertation is available in open access at AURA:Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


Jodi-rae Kortje, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID# http://

Dr. Kortje is a seasoned health care leader and practitioner that has worked in the acute care hospital environment for over twenty years. She began her career as an emergency room nurse and has held numerous educational, supervisory, and leadership positions within the acute care setting in Canada.

Jodi has demonstrated that she is an effective leader who is able to build relationships, negotiate change, set strategic vision, succeed in a diverse political environment, and lead health care teams to improve clinical practice. She has facilitated her teams to achieve quality practice targets in various clinical settings (Emergency, Critical Care, Respiratory Therapy, Medicine, Surgery, and Ambulatory Care) and has led multiple successful implementation initiatives across many programs. She has also overseen numerous capital projects, participated in strategic/conceptual/functional planning and successfully engaged stakeholders and secured funds to develop a best practice environment. Her strength has been her ability to facilitate and sustain a cultural of respect and collaboration among health care teams and other stakeholders, even during times of difficult transition and conflict. Dr. Kortje loves to assist organizations and individuals in developing their leadership capacity and has mentored many nursing professionals and students over the years. She has built and maintained strong inter/intra-professional relationships with staff, physicians, and community partners which have supported patient safety and created quality practice environments within her work environment.

In addition to earning her Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch University, Dr. Kortje holds a Master’s Degree in Nursing from the University of British Columbia and Bachelors Degree in Nursing and Psychology from the University of Saskatchewan. She has also been a certified member of the Emergency Nurse Certification Canada (ENCC) since 2001.

Currently, she is the Director of Emergency, Critical Care, and Medical Services within Vancouver Coastal Health. You can connect with Dr. Kortje on LinkedIn: