"Identikit: make me a nurse”. The use of imagery to inform construction of the professional self

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePoster


Background: Stereotypical images of adult nursing abound in popular culture for consumption and commodification by the public including those who aspire to join the profession. Potentially, professional misrepresentation may cause confusion in roles and responsibilities (Ten Hoeve, et al 2013; Weaver, et al 2013). Literature confirms this misappropriation of identity through imagery yet it remains constant, perpetuating stereotypes. Aim: To explore the perceptions of nursing stereotypes and the value they may bring to construction and sustainability of professional identity. Methods: Drawing on co-collaboration with ten female pre-registration undergraduate adult nursing students (recruited through a UK higher education institution), this study applied a constructivist grounded theory approach. Participant selected imagery informed a series of three photo-elicitation interviews per participant over one year. Data analysis was applied using a constant comparative approach with concurrent memo writing, thematic sensitivity and researcher reflexivity (Charmaz, 2014). Findings: Participants explored wide-ranging stereotypes of nursing which they considered simultaneously useful and problematic, such as power dynamics. This use of imagery enabled the discussion of an eclectic mixture of societal representations of nursing. Such constructs lie within the profession itself, offering an opportunity to consider how these stereotypes serve to re-affirm their professional identity. Discussion: It appears that construction of self is multifaceted, comprised of numerous identities, representations and mis-representations. The presence of which appears to inform how participants interact within a wide range of environments. The poster will interrogate these issues, drawing out the nuances associated with participants' contributions and adding to existing literature by signalling the range of impacts arising from stereotypical representations of nursing. Conclusions: Existing literature focusses on challenging stereotypes of nursing. This study illustrates how they also re-affirm professional identity. Extending understandings of perceptions of nursing stereotypes enables re-identification with professional selves which in turn informs recruitment, education and practice.


  • Nursing
  • identity
  • research
  • imagery


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