A Discussion of Professional Identity Development in Nursing Students

Main Article Content

Cathy Maginnis

Abstract

Becoming a nurse requires development of professional capabilities, specifically socialisation into the profession and developing a professional identity (PI). A search of the literature highlights a lack of empirical research in PI development during pre-registration nursing education. A range of factors will be explored that relate to PI, including identity, professional socialisation, a sense of belonging to the profession and clinical placement. Exploring the development of a PI in nursing students can assist with identifying drivers and inhibitors. The aim of this paper is to describe PI development in pre-registration nursing students’ education and the relationship between development of a PI and the tertiary provided education. There are a multitude of factors that impact on developing a PI such as identity, professional socialisation, belonging, clinical placements and educators. Nursing students predominantly develop a nursing PI in the pre-registration program with professional socialisation through exposure to academia, clinical practice and role models. The onus of responsibility for developing a PI in nursing students is attributed to educational institutions.


An expected outcome of the pre-registration program is that nursing students will have formed a PI. A greater depth of understanding PI is important in supporting the education of the nurses of the future. There may not be one simple explanation for what PI is, or how it is developed, but a greater depth of understanding of PI by both the tertiary sector and the nursing profession is important in supporting the education of the nurses of the future. Further research will enable a dialogue describing the development of a PI in nursing students and an understanding of the attributes and conceptions attributed to a nursing PI.

Article Details

Section
Case Studies
Author Biography

Cathy Maginnis, Charles Sturt University

Cathy Maginnis is a Lecturer at Charles Sturt University for the past 20 years. She has a passion for nursing and midwifery and providing education for rural students. She has an interest in how nursing students develop a professional identity.

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