“I'm not sure I'm a nurse”: A hermeneutic phenomenological study of nursing home nurses' work identity

Juliana Thompson, Glenda Cook, Robert Duschinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Nursing home nurses are in a unique position as they work at the interface of health and social care. Little is known about nursing home nurses’ perceptions and experiences of working within this context. Evidence suggests that using the concept of work identity can support understanding of how workers make sense of their work.

Design: Hermeneutic phenomenological study.
Methods: The study was carried out in 7 nursing homes in North East England. Findings are based upon literary analysis of multiple episodic interviews with 13 nursing home nurses.

Results: Participants’ responses suggested that nursing ‘residents’ is different to nursing ‘patients’, and nursing home nurses are required to modify their care activities to account for these differences. Participants also proposed that they are isolated and excluded from the rest of the healthcare workforce group. These issues led participants to feel uncertain about work identity. Many participants attempted to strengthen their work identity by aligning their role with what they perceived the ‘nurse identity’ to be.

Conclusion: Nurses’ work activities and professional group identity influence their work identity. When work activities and professional group identity do not align with role expectations, as can be the case for nursing home nurses, work identity may be compromised. These nurses may attempt to change work practices to strengthen their work identity.

Relevance to clinical practice: Health and social care providers need to account for work identity factors in the organisation of care, and planning and implementation of integrated health and social care initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1062
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number5-6
Early online date4 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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