Nursing students' processes of taking role models and being role models: A descriptive phenomenological study

Nurse Educ Today. 2024 Jan:132:106015. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2023.106015. Epub 2023 Nov 2.


Background: Role models are frequently viewed as a means of motivating people to adopt new behaviors and inspiring them to establish ambitious targets. Role models play a significant role in the characters of individuals and can be effective in shaping their career choices, education, and identities. Within the nursing profession, role models are integral to nursing students' journey towards understanding the nursing role and professional responsibility. For this reason, it is very important for nursing students to identify role models that support the development of students growth and development.

Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the qualities of nurses who serve as role models for senior undergraduate nursing students in shaping their professional attitudes and behaviors, identify the motivations behind selecting these individuals as role models.

Design: A descriptive phenomenological research method was used.

Settings: The research was conducted at a state university nursing school.

Participants: The study was conducted with the participation of 16 senior nursing students.

Methods: Data collected from one-on-one interviews. A thematic analysis was used to analyze the data.

Results: Student nurses mostly took clinical nurses and lecturers as professional role models. They were most impressed by their role models' knowledge, strong communication skills, and respect for human beings. To imitate their role models, students were willing to work in the clinic to improve their communication and psychomotor abilities and engaged in research and inquiry in areas where they felt insufficient. However, they also reported that most clinical nurses were not positive role models. They avoided taking nurses as role models because they had low communication skills, did not guide the student, and did not value human beings.

Conclusions: The study's findings indicated that student nurses were primarily influenced by clinical nurses and viewed them as both positive and negative role models, and they aspired to emulate the qualities of the nurses they considered positive role models while actively avoiding behaviors and traits associated with those seen as negative role models. Clinical nurses, who are in contact with prospective nurses the most, have an important role in guiding them.

Keywords: Caring; Professional nurses; Role models; Role-modeling; Student nurses.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate* / methods
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role
  • Prospective Studies
  • Students, Nursing*