Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Carter

Second Advisor

Dr. Debra Dean

Third Advisor

Dr. Felix-Jager de Weaver


Shortages in noninstructional itinerant staff (school nurses, school psychologists, school social workers) have been especially difficult for K–12 public school districts, as these individuals have critical responsibilities within the school setting that they are uniquely qualified to complete. Noninstructional itinerant employees face challenges such as isolation, role confusion, and high workloads that professionals who work in other settings or instructional colleagues may not encounter. They may also be impacted by their responsibilities related to meeting the increasing mental health needs of the students they support. The aim of this qualitative research study was to consider the experiences of 14 noninstructional itinerant professionals - five school nurses, five school psychologists, and four school social workers - who have been employed in the same K-12 public school setting for at least 10 years. Several themes emerged as the findings of the study: passion/purpose, expertise, working conditions, connections, and personal characteristics. A majority of the noninstitutional itinerants in this study reported finding deep purpose in their work and having a long-term impact on the lives of students. For most professionals, this factor may mitigate adverse working conditions such as lower pay and higher caseloads. In the area of working conditions, the school schedule emerged as a leading motivator, as it provided for a better work-life balance. Another dominant factor was connections with administration, which influenced the level of inclusion, provision of adequate workspace, and professional input. The personal factors that impacted longevity were the noninstructional itinerants’ level of flexibility and resiliency.