The hospital ward sister: professional gatekeeper


Tom Lawis 93 Graham Crescent Portslade Brighton BN41 2YAUK


This study is a shortened report of research exploring ward sisters/charge nurses’ perceptions of their responsibilities (Throughout the study, the title ‘ward sister’ is used to refer to ward sister/charge nurse) Using semi-structured interview technique, 10 hospital sisters from two large hospitals in the south of England were interviewed The emergent data were analysed using grounded theory method From the analysis, the substantive theory was developed that ward sisters act to gatekeep the professional function of the nurse Many previous British studies have explored the role of the ward sister, reporting the powerful influence that the ward sister exerts over her environment This study suggests that one of the reasons the ward sister is able to exert such power is because of her professional gatekeeper role The shift in emphasis from the clinical to the managerial function of ward sister could therefore have important implications for the professional nursing function Some possible implications are discussed and recommendations are made