Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2012


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Carolyn J. Nickerson

Committee Member

Rick Zoucha

Committee Member

Patricia W. Underwood


Culture, Education, Ethnography, Nursing


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to discover nurse educators' perceptions about the culture of nursing and how they bring students into that culture.

Background: Although the extant literature addresses the process of socialization to the profession, literature exploring socialization as enculturation is scant. Nurse educators' perspectives on the culture of nursing needed further exploration, as their voice on this topic is relatively silent and they provide the first formal enculturation to the profession. Viewing nursing as a professional culture may more effectively enable faculty to clarify and explicate for students the values, behaviors, symbols, and beliefs inherent in the profession.

Methodology: This study was a focused ethnography, utilizing Leininger's Four Phases of Data Analysis.

Conclusion and Implications: Four main themes emerged from the data. These themes are the culture of nursing is multifaceted, multivalent and at times contradictory; multiple factors both internal and external to the culture influence the culture of nursing; nursing faculty believe that the right conditions facilitate the enculturation of students; navigating the subcultures (academia, service and organizational culture) is challenging for faculty. Theme One reflects faculty participants' views of the diverse characteristics and roles attributed to nurses and the absence of a composite, well-articulated characterization of the culture of nursing other than by value of caring. Theme Two reflects faculty participants' perceptions of the many internal and external factors that influence the culture of nursing. Theme Three captures faculty participants' strong beliefs about what was necessary to bring students into that culture.

Theme Four illustrates the many cultural negotiations required daily of faculty participants as they participate in multiple, and at times conflicting subcultures within the culture of nursing. This study has implications for the preparation of nurse educators, curriculum development in nursing education, the education-practice gap, and the role of nurse educators in shaping the culture of nursing.