Marginality: concept or reality in nursing education?



The concept of marginality has provided a powerful framework for examining individuals or groups who leave one group or culture without making a satisfactory adjustment to another Although little research appears to have been undertaken into marginality in the health care profession, this paper discusses the concept of marginality and its relevance in the education of student nurses One point examined in the paper is the student nurses' position in the intersection of two relatively distinct cultures or traditions (academic vs professional and student culture vs working culture) Another is the students' experience and feelings of being in that position The critical incident technique was used to collect data and the responses were inductively categorized In all, 79 critical incidents (50 negative and 29 positive evidents) were analysed The results indicate that student nurses develop different strategies for coping with their marginal position They can behave in an anticipated fashion by withdrawing into the role of pupil, they can form alliances with different groups of health care personnel, and they can try to escape from their working responsibilities The results shows that the concept of marginality is useful for describing the students' situations and that students' experiences can form a base upon which critical analysis of the nursing profession can be developed