Professional identity: values embedded in meaningful nursing practice



The main research question addressed in this two-phase descriptive study was ‘What are the values underlying nurses’ professional identity as expressed through what is meaningful in nurses’work?’The first phase was a survey of 767 randomly selected nurses with one, five, and 10 years of experience in nursing, and in the second phase data on work-meaning were obtained from a convenience sample of six nurses by in-depth interviews eliciting nurses’stories about providing care to patients. Content analysis of survey-data revealed that the nurses held both other-oriented and self-oriented values, i.e. moral and work values. Human dignity and altruism were the most prominent moral values, whereas the most significant work-values were intellectual and personal stimulation. The interview-data, analysed by means of hermeneutic and narrative analysis, revealed a greater diversity in value-expressions compared to the survey-data. Altruism, the moral orientation of care, was the overall philosophy, and human dignity appeared as a core value. The nine additional values appeared to be linked to human dignity either by arising from it and/or being aimed at preserving this basic value.