Creating what sort of professional? Master's level nurse education as a professionalising strategy

GERRISH, K., MCMANUS, M. and ASHWORTH, P. D. (2003). Creating what sort of professional? Master's level nurse education as a professionalising strategy. Nursing inquiry, 10 (2), 103-112.

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This paper reports on a detailed analysis of selected findings from a larger study of master’s level nurse education. It locates some features of such education within the contemporary situation of nursing as a profession and interprets the role of master’s level nurse education as a professionalising strategy. In-depth interviews were undertaken with a purposive sample of 18 nurse lecturers drawn from eight universities in the United Kingdom. The interview agenda explored participants’ perspectives of the characteristics of master’s level performance in practice. Interview transcripts were interpreted by drawing upon hermeneutic methodology.

The following themes emerged. (a) The credibility of the master’s level nurse was of central importance. In terms of the literature of professionalisation, this may be interpreted as a factor in enhancing the legitimacy of nursing as an occupation. (b) The clinical capability attributed to the nurse is interpreted as leading to an increase in the authority commanded by the expert professional. Thus, the individual capability of the master’s level nurse enhances the attribution of autonomous skill to the occupation as a whole. (c) The master’s level nurse is seen to exercise influence and leadership and this strengthens the power and status of nursing.

Nursing does not have the appearance of a ‘traditional’ profession, neither has it a clear stance as a ‘new profession’. Rather it appears to be especially responsive to the tide of public opinion manifest through government edicts. While nursing is employing rhetoric that espouses both positions, the direction of master’s level education is anomalous.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: master’s level, nurse education, postgraduate, postregistration, professionalisation
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Identification Number:
Page Range: 103-112
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2008
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:46

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