The hidden role: a focused ethnographic study of the nurse link tutor in higher education
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AuthorsClifton, Elizabeth Susan
Sadler Moore, Della
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractDespite long standing debates relating to the role and function of the nurse teacher who acts as a link tutor in Higher Education, there is little understanding and evidence relating to their practice role. This focused ethnographic study sought to identify the role, the complexities and challenges, and future role requirements of the nurse link tutor, while supporting undergraduate, adult field nursing students on clinical placements. A guiding theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism used throughout this study contributed to an interpretation of the nurse link tutors' role from participants' perspectives and an understanding of the factors that affect and influence their role. This two phase study employed purposive sampling of nurse link tutors working in practice teams, spanning two hospital trusts. The first phase sought understanding using participant observation and informal interviews using the Developmental Research Sequence method (Spradley, 1979). Data collection in phase one took place over eleven months of field work, followed by a second phase focus group with the same nurse link tutors. The focus group helped to confirm findings from phase one as well as gain further insight into the role and future role requirements. Researcher reflexivity was important and integrated throughout this study. Data analysis in phase one applied domain and taxonomic analysis (Spradley, 1979) followed by Leininger's (1985) thematic and pattern analysis in the second phase. A symbolic interactionist approach used the application of “generic social processes” (Blumer, 1969; Prus, 1996) as an interpretive framework. The role was found to be emotionally demanding and a number of tensions and challenges were identified involving a constant juggling of an academic and practice role in order to support students in practice and enhance practice learning. This study revealed unknown aspects of the nurse link tutors' practice role, involving emotion work in the supportive aspects of their role in practice. This contributed to their professional nursing identity, however, the emotional labour they carried out remained hidden and unrecognised. Study recommendations for the nurse link tutor role, come at a time of new education standards for student nurse supervision and assessment (NMC, 2018) involving changes to roles in practice. However, in order for the nurse link tutor to fulfil a credible role in practice, there is a need for greater clarity of their role and support to enable them to juggle an academic and practice role. The emotion work and emotional labour they carry out should be made more visible and recognised. In order to develop and enhance their future professional role as nurse educators in practice they should be taking a leadership role and working with practice learning partners to enhance practice education. This study offers a contribution to knowledge of the insights into the emotion management perspective as applied to the nurse link tutor's experience of emotionality and how they manage their emotions to express their professional role identity.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Health and Wellbeing
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- Creative Commons
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States