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Sarah Stahlke, PhD

(formerly Wall) Associate Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre


About Me


  • PhD (Sociology), University of Alberta, 2011
  • Master of Health Services Administration, University of Alberta, 1997
  • BScN, University of Alberta, 1986


My research interests are around understanding, defining, and enabling professional nursing practice. At the heart of this are philosophical questions about what constitutes nursing knowledge, how nurses identify what they know and how they know it, and what they perceive to be their unique contribution to health care. An ability to address fundamental questions about nursing has relevance for defining the kinds of roles that nurses can fill and what, if any, the limits to the scope of nursing practice are. As well, because nurses generally fulfill their roles as organizational employees, I am especially interested in the organizational influences on nursing practice and the ethical dimensions of how health care organizations operate and behave. In a dynamic and constantly changing health care climate, I examine the ways in which contemporary health care organizations do or do not support and value nursing knowledge and practice and what consequences flow from how nursing knowledge is incorporated into health care delivery and system transformation. I have explored these questions among nurses who are self-employed (in independent or private practice) and my ongoing program of research continues to pursue these topics across nursing practice roles and settings. Some of my recent and current research examines the nurse practitioner role and the ways in which NPs envision a new approach to patient care, within their organizational contexts. I am also exploring the nursing regulatory environment and the impact of conservative regulatory policies and processes on innovative nursing practice. 

I am a qualitative researcher and methodologist and I publish regularly on methodological topics.

My background spans nursing, health services administration and sociology, and I have been strongly influenced by organizational studies. Thus, I am also keenly interested in interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in research and professional education (which is professional socialization), the benefits and drawbacks of cross-disciplinary work, and the factors that facilitate or impede it.