A Conceptual Framework for Nurse Educationalists and Professional Nurses to Facilitate Professionalism Amongst Learner Nurses

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Portia B. Bimray, MCur
School of Nursing, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


To facilitate professionalism amongst undergraduate learner nurses for nursing practice in the Western Cape.


A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive, contextual research design with a case study approach was used. Focus group discussions and unstructured individual interviews were held with undergraduate learner nurses, nurse educationalists and professional nurses. The data of three cases of the experiences i) learner nurses, ii) nurse educationalists and iii) professional nurses were converged in a cross-case analysis .


Six themes emerged from the cross-case analysis between the three cases that informed the conceptual framework for the facilitation of professionalism amongst undergraduate learner nurses. The findings indicated that i) nurses should demonstrate their professional values during interactions with authorities, fellow colleagues, and patients, ii) interpersonal communication style by nurses with all stakeholders in the external environment should be considered, iii) there is realisation of essential role modelling in different settings, iv) there should be support mechanisms to promote professionalism in learner nurses v) all nurses should be mindful in nursing practice and vi) teaching and learning needs in theory and practice should be recognised for professional development of the new generation and historical heritage of the profession.


The facilitation of professionalism takes place in the academic and clinical learning environment within higher education and nursing practice. Within these contexts, consideration should be given to the diversity in cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, the new generation in the 21 st century and the ethical-legal framework within which nursing care is practiced. Furthermore, there is a need for HEI and nursing education to stay abreast of the latest developments in innovation and technology and to ensure the responsible use of social media in nursing practice. Nurse educationalists and professional nurses should use their discretion when engaging with learner nurses on social media such as Facebook and BBM as the professional boundaries between nurse educator and learner nurse should be maintained. Nursing education institutions need to invest in a counselling programme specifically designed for the academic and emotional needs of undergraduate learner nurses. The programme should include a dedicated nurse councillor who will be available on campus to provide the learner nurse with support throughout the four year of the academic undergraduate training programme. There is a need for nurse educators to communicate and collaborate with nurse professionals about the progress of the learner nurse and to ensure that the learning objectives meet the nursing care needs of the health care institution. There is a need for the provision of educational opportunities to accommodate the learning needs of undergraduate learner nurses and those learner nurses from non-degree programmes. Adequate learning resources should be available to provide in the specific learning needs of the learner nurse and that will simulate a real life situation as close as possible to reality in the nursing practice environment. Mindfulness programmes for professional nurses who work under stressful conditions should be implemented in healthcare institutions so that professional nurses are better able to relate to learner nurses when they are calm and demonstrate tolerance for the shortcomings of the learner nurse in stressful work environment. Health care institutions should have structured orientation programmes in place to welcome novice learner nurses to the profession and make known what the expectations are that will facilitate professionalism amongst learner nurses. A structured orientation programme will also allow the learner nurse to feel part of the nursing team and will create a sense of "belonging". There is a need for professional nurses to display the vision, mission and goals of the health care institution and patient care wards that lead to excellence in patient care, visible to all nursing staff. In doing so the learner nurse will be better able to follow the guidelines and policies imperative for nursing practice that will guide them in their behaving professionally. The expected professional values required for professionalism have been identified and categorised according to the three domains i.e competence domain, connection domain and character domain, of Brown and Ferrill`s (2009) taxonomy and include professional capability, interpersonal compatibility and personal reliability.