Professional Socialization in Nursing

Instructor: Jennifer Reyes

Jennifer has taught Nursing in ADN, BSN, and MSN programs and has a Master's degree in Nursing Education.

This lesson contains the definition of professional socialization in nursing, the basic steps for a nurse to achieve professional socialization, and how the nurse educator can help facilitate this.

Professional Socialization: What Is It?

Can you recall a nurse you might have seen on a TV show or a movie? Some people might enter the field of nursing with this vision in mind, while others might lack knowledge of what to expect all together. In order for nurses to integrate within the profession, professional socialization must occur. The goal of professional socialization is to help develop a nurse's identity. Educators play a vital role in helping nursing students and new nurses feel like nursing professionals.

When considering socialization in the profession of nursing, nurse educators must consider the common attitudes and values, behaviors and skills as well as the many roles of nursing in order to ultimately help students identify as nurses and operate as such. It's also important for nursing educators to reflect on their own personal values as well as their feelings toward other people and environments. There's no right or wrong belief, and many will find that personal experiences influence what they value and believe.

Daily interactions with medical professionals and patients foster professional socialization.
Nurse, Doctor, Patient

The educator's job is to determine the appropriate settings, activities, and resources that will help facilitate professional socialization. It's important for nursing educators to help students with their transition by using role-modeling behaviors and challenging their perspectives. Daily interactions with medical professionals, including other nurses, patients, and families, as well as their own friends and family members will help move learners toward the goal of professional socialization. Interaction with others helps students identify and prioritize their beliefs and values. Additionally, exposure to a variety of patient settings as well as challenging and engaging classroom activities allow new nurses and students chances to model behaviors, language, and attitudes.

Classroom Activities

Several classroom activities can assist students in developing, practicing, and testing their abilities to internalize the values of nursing and then demonstrate them.

Consider Lucy. Lucy is a nursing instructor teaching pediatrics at a local community college. Lucy wants to incorporate some activities in her lecture so that students can bridge the gap between internalizing values and demonstrating them when they get to the clinical setting. She considers each option carefully.

First, by providing her students with research journals on various pediatric disease processes or nursing care of the child and family, she is providing the students with the opportunities to reflect on the information and internalize feelings surrounding the issues. These feelings can then be discussed, and positive nursing behaviors can be brought forward.

Lucy can also host ethical and legal debates, allowing students to work in teams and discuss different sides surrounding various nursing topics. Having students engage with each other allows for different perspectives and thought-provoking discussions surrounding the 'why' behind behaviors and attitudes. Students can later use this information when faced with a similar situation.

Lucy can also use simulation scenarios and reflective journaling after the exercise to provide time for students to express their feelings. In order for students to internalize their feelings and then choose the appropriate behavior, attitude, and tone, they should experience things from many different perspectives.

For instance, the same scenario may be presented several times with different perspectives (from a patient's, then a family's, then a nurse's point of view) so that deeper thought and reflection can take place. In addition, role playing during the scenarios allows for opportunities to practice and promote positive behaviors as well as clarify any inconsistencies.

Ultimately, Lucy decides that using a debate format will allow her to discuss various attitudes and behaviors so that students can model positive ones when they get to the clinical setting.

Clinical Activities

Clinical exercises that assist in the professional socialization of nurses include experiences in multiple types of care settings, post-conference debriefing, reflective journaling, case study discussion, presentations, and service-learning activities.

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