A study of the professionalization and professionalism of nursing, 1960-1980
Tilbury, Mary Sayre
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The purpose of this study was to describe and document how nursing is changing and if it is changing in keeping with the process of professionalization. The purpose was addressed through a grounded field methodology which defined attributes commonly associated with professions into measurable constructs; documented evidence of these characteristics by triangulating data sources; and explored the ideology of academic nurses through twenty-five interviews. The study generated hypotheses regarding nursing’s professional evolution for future investigation. The characteristics commonly associated with professional groups were identified through an extensive review of the literature on professionalism and professionalization. Six research questions were developed from the literature to guide the study. As formulated, the questions reflect change over time. The study’s basic premise is that occupational groups change with regard to specific characteristics during the process of professional development, and that the conceptualization of a profession is an abstract, ideal form, non-existent is reality. The study views the development of an occupational group towards professional status as a dynamic process. Therefore, it does not seek to ask if nursing is or is not a profession, but how it is developing with respect to characteristics commonly accepted as those associated with professions. Public literature, archival data, and a baccalaureate and higher degree nursing school are used to achieve data triangulation. The addresses of ANA presidents, historical texts, a nurse practice act, classified ads, dictionary definitions, faculty credentials, appointment, promotion and tenure criteria, entrance/certification requirements, curricular development and twenty-five semi-structured interviews with baccalaureate and higher degree faculty serve as data sources. These data sources are explored through inductive analysis for evidence of developing attributes and the evolution of a professional culture, defined as a shared and consistent system of beliefs. The study reveals that nursing’s professionalization is incomplete, episodic and uneven in nature. Two conflicting ideologies are identified as limiting changes between nursing and society; Recommendations are made for further study of this social movement.
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