Professionalism and the nature of nursing reward


  • Rita Austin Ph.D. B.Soc.Sci. Dip.Soc.Admin.

    1. Research Officer, Centre for Sociological Research, Department of Sociology, University College, Cardiff, Wales
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This paper examines the relationship between the rewards that feature in the ideology of professionalism and those that inspire nurses. A core feature of a wider thesis, which examined the congruence between the status aspirations held by nurses and the aspirations to status recognized and rewarded by nursing's professional leaders, this paper reveals both that professionalism is not all of a piece and that nurses’ expectations of work rewards are characterized by segmentation. No association was found between the expectation of the reward of professional membership and other intrinsic and extrinsic work rewards associated with professionalism. It was found that nurses, for the most part, desired intrinsic rewards for their work and that the high appeal of intrinsic rewards had not been translated into a high desirability for extrinsic rewards-a dynamic common to many professional groups. Finally, this examination of expected work rewards reveals the segmentary nature of nursing. Not only do factors of biography, mobility, work context and dominant work orientation profoundly influence the expectation of given rewards, only very minimally are the extrinsic rewards currently promulgated as legitimate for the profession as a whole by nursing's professional leaders, reflected in the work reward expectations of this sample of nurses.