Student nurses' accounts of their work and training: a qualitative analysis
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This thesis reports a study which attempted to explore how a group of student nurses perceived their experience of being learners of nursing. In order to obtain the students' accounts of this experience, a qualitative methodological approach has adopted, drawing upon the work of Glaser and Strauss (1967) on the generation of 'grounded theory'. The fieldwork took the form of informal interviews with forty student nurses. Certain predetermined topics provided the overall direction of the fieldwork; the students were encouraged to develop these and to raise any others which they thought to be pertinent to nursing. The interviews were tape recorded and their analysis resulted in the emergence of six conceptual categories which served as a framework for the presentation of the substantive issues raised by the students. Three major themes are taken up from the data, these are: the student experience as a preparation for staff nurse work, the functional interchangeability of the student and the nursing auxiliary and, the concept of medical dominance. This study sheds some light on the process of occupational socialisation in nursing and examines the question of profession and professionalisation in relation to nursing. The concluding discussion moves beyond the data and examines the occupational structure of nursing; this is relevant to the study because the students were preparing to become part of that structure. Moreover the occupational structure has implications for the recruitment of students and the organisation of their training. Four sub-groups within nursing are identified, namely: 'new managers', 'new professionals', 'rank and file' and 'academic professionalisers'. A speculative discourse upon how these groups might articulate with each other, in order to produce an efficient nursing service, is offered and areas for further study are suggested.