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The effects of e-learning on nurse identity construction

McCarthy, Jillian W. (2009) The effects of e-learning on nurse identity construction. Doctoral thesis (EdD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The development of a nurse identity is known to be a gradual process which takes place by students through social interaction in both academic and clinical settings. It is a crucial element in retaining students within the nursing profession and enabling them to perform the nurse role competently and effectively. Constructing a nurse identity is a complex and individual process, but, it is recognised that it will contain universal traits such as caring and compassion. Failure to absorb a nurse identity by students is not well documented, but, it is thought to contribute towards the number of recruits who leave the profession prior to or on qualifying. This phenomenological study examines the ways in which student nurses construct and adopt a nurse identity whilst studying for the theoretical component of their nursing course. The lived experience of both traditional, classroom based student nurses and those studying by electronic learning (e-learning) is explored through in-depth interviews and participant observations. Elearning is being introduced into nurse education in place of traditional methods of teaching and the research examines the impact of this mode of learning on professional socialisation to the identity of a nurse. The study gathered data from in-depth interviews with six student nurses studying by traditional methods and, also, from six student nurses studying by e-learning; all students were in the third year of a Diploma in Nursing (Adult Branch) course (comparisons were made between the findings from the two groups of students, in order to discover if nurse identities and the ways in which these are formulated differ between traditional students and those studying by e-learning). Findings from the data disclosed similarities and differences between the two groups of students, however, definitive conclusions as to the effects of e-learning on the construction and adoption of nurse identities could not be made. The findings did disclose strengths and weaknesses in both types of education, and the overall conclusion was that e-learning could be a success in student nurse education only if it is introduced with sufficient funding and on a solid foundation of research and development, by nurse educators who are knowledgeable in this style of pedagogy.

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