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Keywords:

  • clinical competence;
  • feedback;
  • job performance;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • quality of work

Aim.  The aim of this paper is to shed light on how nurses describe situations that reflect achievement and provide confirmation that they have done good work.

Background.  Nurses’ recognition of good work does not seem to have been the object of direct investigation, but is indirectly reflected in studies focusing on nurses’ perceptions on work environments and the multifaceted nature of nursing. However, acknowledging high-quality performance in professional nurses can facilitate nurses in maintaining and strengthening the goals and values of the profession. This in turn can help nurses shoulder the multifaceted responsibilities they have to patients and next of kin.

Design.  This paper is part of the Professional Learning in a Changing Society project, Institute of Educational Research, University of Oslo, funded by the Research Council of Norway. The project involves four professional groups. This paper, however, focuses on a group of 10 nurses, nine of whom work in hospitals and one in an outpatient clinic. A qualitative approach was chosen to gain insight into how nurses, as well as the other professional groups in the project, engage in processes of knowledge production and quality assurance work.

Methods.  Data presented in this paper derive from semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted during spring 2005 and focuses on the recognition of good work.

Results.  The following themes were identified as essential in confirming that one did good work: securing fundamental needs of patients and next of kin; managing the flow of responsibilities; positive feedback.

Conclusions.  Good work seems to be related to specific situations and a sense of achievement by the respondents.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Recognition of good work is not only rewarding and enjoyable; it may also serve as a source of consciousness raising for professional and ethical guidelines in the work place.