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Keywords:

  • transition;
  • student nurse;
  • anthropology;
  • ethnography;
  • nursing;
  • ritual;
  • role conflict

A journey to becoming: the student nurse in transition¶ The study reported in this paper explored the nature of the transition experienced by student nurses in their journey to becoming qualified nurses. In keeping with the developing relationship between the disciplines of anthropology and nursing, the methodology of choice was ethnography. Data were collected by open-ended questionnaires and interviews with key informants from one English College of Nursing undertaking Diploma level Project 2000 Adult Branch Studies. Thematic analysis of the data revealed an ill-defined transition for the student nurse and this lack of clarity was being perpetuated for many by their dual role as both student nurse and worker. This was also creating a potential role conflict and a blurring of the boundaries between professional nursing and skilled health care work. The data also revealed two ‘in limbo’ states, a ritualized transition phase, and that the rationale for ‘learning to become a nurse’ retains the idealized and vocational imagery of nursing as helping and caring for sick people.