"Who do you think you are?": Perceptions of professional identity in adult nursing using constructivist grounded theory

Jacquie Ridge, Jackie Parkes, Judith Sixsmith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Introduction: Past research indicates that perceptions of adult nursing in the United Kingdom continue to be misconstrued; reaffirmed by a society that is largely unaware of the diverse roles and responsibilities of this profession. This serves to reinforce uncertainty, confusion and misrepresentation of professional identity amongst adult nurses thus requiring credible insight to address historical under recruitment and high attrition in nurse education.

    Aim of the study: To understand the professional identity of adult nursing and how this is constructed through the practice of nursing.

    Methods: A constructivist grounded theory approach recruited 10 female undergraduate students undertaking their pre-registration education in the field of adult nursing. Following ethics approval from the University of Northampton data was collected over 1 year via semi structured interviews and photo elicitation on three occasions with each participant during their preregistration nurse education. Further data collection is proposed in autumn 2016 to ensure rigour of findings as participants are now qualified nurses.

    Role aspirations remain constant despite continuous change to the nursing workforce and its care delivery.
    Nursing stereotypes are manipulated for personal exploitation of role construction.
    Role modelling of the future-self, through wearing a nursing uniform, causes a dichotomy between aspiration and reality of nursing culture.

    Discussion and conclusion: Idealised expectation of the adult nursing role needs to adapt to sustain the construction of professional identity in adult nursing. Workforce planning has capitalized on this disconnect re-identifying with nursing's moral virtues as a panacea for attrition. Applicants for nurse education need to understand the reality of a role which is far more varied, administrative and complex in its application, and develop a resilience in their perception of self as an adult nurse.

    Practical and/or academic implications: This research is informed by participants' subjective interpretation of the construction and sustainability of professional identity of adult nursing to inform authentic recruitment, education and retention strategies in the United Kingdom.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


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