Developing a professional identity: Student nurses in the workplace.
This analysis of the academic and student discourse about learning in the practicum in one Australian pre-registration Bachelor of Nursing course is part of a larger study examining the professional identity of undergraduate students in three professional groups: nursing, teaching and engineering. The focus group discussion of six student nurses reveals that the theories learned in the classroom are only partially useful preparation for the relationships required to work as a nurse in a people-laden workplace; students struggle to create meaning about practices that are not consistent with classroom theory; and students require support as they develop an identity of a nurse through the embodiment of practice work. The findings from this group support the view that the traditional approach to learning, as expressed in the documentation for the final practicum experience, where knowledge is certain, context-free, and disciplinary or subject focused, is insufficient to assist student readiness for the world of work. Recommendations emerging from this analysis are related to the university and provides some evidence for others teaching in nursing programs to reconsider their practices.