Professional identity in nursing: UK students' explanations for poor standards of care

Traynor, Michael ORCID logoORCID: and Buus, Niels (2016) Professional identity in nursing: UK students' explanations for poor standards of care. Social Science and Medicine, 166 . pp. 186-194. ISSN 0277-9536 [Article] (doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.08.024)

PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0.

Download (396kB) | Preview


Research concludes that professional socialisation in nursing is deeply problematic because new recruits start out identifying with the profession’s ideals but lose this idealism as they enter and continue to work in the profession. This study set out to examine the topic focussing on the development of professional identity. Six focus groups were held with a total of 49 2nd and 3rd year BSc nursing students studying at a university in London, UK and their transcripts were subject to discourse analysis. Participants’ talk was strongly dualistic and inflected with anxiety. Participants identified with caring as an innate characteristic. They described some qualified nurses as either not possessing this characteristic or as having lost it. They explained strategies for not becoming corrupted in professional practice. Their talk enacted distancing from ‘bad’ qualified nurses and solidarity with other students. Their talk also featured cynicism. Neophyte nurses’ talk of idealism and cynicism can be understood as identity work in the context of anxiety inherent in the work of nurses and in a relatively powerless position in the professional healthcare hierarchy.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Available online 18 August 2016
Keywords (uncontrolled): United Kingdom; Nurses; Anxiety; Care and compassion; Discourse analysis; Focus groups; Professional identity
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Adult, Child and Midwifery
Item ID: 20521
Notes on copyright: © 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Michael Traynor
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2016 09:53
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 21:33

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.