• grounded theory;
  • nursing culture;
  • occupational socialization;
  • Project 2000;
  • theory–practice gap

The impact of ‘Project 2000’ educational reforms on the occupational socialization of nurses: an exploratory study

There is much in both nursing and sociological literature concerning the socialization of students into health care professions. In the case of nursing, concern has been expressed at the disparity between the values espoused by the educational establishment and those in the clinical areas. This study aimed to explore the changes in nursing occupational socialization since the implementation of recent educational reforms. Ethical approval was obtained from the local Research and Ethics Committee. The sample (n = 18) was drawn from qualified nurses working in a range of departments within three Welsh hospitals, half had undergone traditional training and half had received Project 2000 education. Data collection and analysis techniques were based on a grounded theory approach; this approach was deemed appropriate in that it allows the possibility of developing fresh perspectives on the subject without being too constrained by earlier studies. A strongly emerging theme from the data was that the nature of nursing socialization was related to the work contexts in which it was experienced; in particular respondents offered sharply contrasting accounts of nursing culture in ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’ areas of health work. The process of socialization was found to be harsher in acute areas with numerous instances of negative sanctions used to ensure compliance to ward culture, whilst in chronic areas occupational socialization was a more satisfactory process and nurses experienced less dissonance between ward and educational establishments. The size of this study mitigates against any firm conclusions; however, the early indications suggest that it would be a fruitful area for further research with a wider sample group drawn from diverse areas. This exploratory study suggests that the location of nursing work, in terms of whether it is in acute or chronic areas, is a determining factor in the experience of contemporary occupational socialization of nurses.