Academisation of nursing: an ethnography of social transformations in Chile

Ayala, Ricardo A, Fealy, Gerard M. and Vanderstraeten, Piet Bracke (2013) Academisation of nursing: an ethnography of social transformations in Chile. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51 4: 603-611. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.08.010

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Author Ayala, Ricardo A
Fealy, Gerard M.
Vanderstraeten, Piet Bracke
Title Academisation of nursing: an ethnography of social transformations in Chile
Journal name International Journal of Nursing Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0020-7489
Publication date 2013-08-31
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.08.010
Volume 51
Issue 4
Start page 603
End page 611
Total pages 17
Place of publication Bromley, United Kingdom
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Research Highlights
What is already known about the topic?
• There has been a concerted attempt in nursing to gain full professional status and, therefore, much attention has been paid to intellectualise nurse's occupational activity, and to gain entry into the academy.
• Nursing education has evolved from an apprenticeship model towards an academic curriculum, resulting in a growing access to scientific degrees in nursing.
What this paper adds.
• Building on social theory, this study brings fresh insights on the academisation process, which highlights social transformations as a more comprehensive focus for examining the development of nursing.
• Our results point to class-consciousness patterns in nursing academisation that participate in reproduction of social inequalities, which in turn prevent further progress of nurses both individually and collectively.
• As supported by professionalisation theory, professional development is better understood by studying areas of contact between occupations. Accordingly, the article offers an analysis of two parallel occupations, the nurse and the auxiliary nurse, which shows that class identity formation is as powerful a factor as gender identity in the development of modern nursing.

Background Nursing in Chile is considered to be the leading example of professional development in Latin America–nurses must undertake five years of university education on a full-time programme. Academisation of nursing education is a key aspect in the evolution into professional status. The consequences of education, however, are commonly related to the replication of social institutions and structures that perpetuate social inequalities.
Objective The study's aim was to comprehend the consequences of nursing academisation and its relationships with the social transformations which that country has witnessed.
Methods We draw upon ethnographic data, gathered between 2010 and 2011 in a 500-bed, high-quality university hospital in Chile. Participants were nurses ranging from beginners to experienced professionals and recruited from wards representing technically-expert nursing and caring-oriented nursing. The data were organised to allow the development of concepts and patterns, using the Grounded Theory approach.
Results Despite the fact that Chilean nursing originated from the educated elite class, today's nurses share a middle-class consciousness, and a sense of class distinction is encouraged throughout academic training–the ‘eliteness’ of professional groups. This discourse antagonises middle-class people who ‘should’ adopt a professional-class identity. A tension among nurses surfaced, based on a competition for a scarce resource: social mobility. Furthermore, an antagonist stratification between university-trained nurses and auxiliary nurses has developed, and in the process the title ‘nurse’ and the practice of ‘nursing’ have been monopolised by university-trained nurses, resulting in a relationship of domination-subordination.
Conclusions The academisation process followed by Chilean nursing is rooted in the social-class transformations of that country. Such process has been ineffective in preventing social inequalities, resulting in the reproduction of earlier historical class differences in nursing, inhibiting nurses’ individual development. Class differences are manifest in the socially-constructed distinction between the nurse and the auxiliary nurse, resulting in a schism of the nursing family. By reconstituting a broken-up occupation, the political power of nursing could be strengthened.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online: 31 August 2013.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 4 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 4 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 11 Sep 2013, 11:31:40 EST by Vicki Percival on behalf of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work