Scientific article

Individual and collective strategies in nurses' struggle for professional identity

ContributorsBochatay, Naike
Publication date2018

Individuals' perception of their work as meaningful contributes to their sense of identity. While individual processes of identity development through work have been studied extensively, we know little about how social processes may contribute to this development. This article seeks to better understand social processes of professional identity development through work by examining nurses' reactions to changes in their end of shift reports. Field observations were conducted with two healthcare teams on the internal medicine ward of a Swiss teaching hospital. During the observation period, organisational changes in end of shift reports, a crucial time in nurses' shift, were introduced to the teams and then implemented. Before the changes, nurses used individual and collective strategies to make their work meaningful and to affirm their professional identity. Individually, nurses sought recognition from their co-workers during end of shift reports. Collectively, nurses resorted to professional values and discourses that set them apart from other professional groups. However, changes in shift reports threatened these strategies. This article shows how nurses make their work meaningful in the eyes of others and how others' recognition contributes to nurses' sense of professional identity.

  • Professional identity
  • Nursing
  • Health professions
  • Ethnography
  • Meaning of work
  • Identity threat
Citation (ISO format)
BOCHATAY, Naike. Individual and collective strategies in nurses” struggle for professional identity. In: Health Sociology Review, 2018. doi: 10.1080/14461242.2018.1469096
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1446-1242

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