Professional socialization refers to the process whereby an individual acquires skills, sense and knowledge of all aspects that characterize the profession. It involves learning everything that entails a particular profession (Claywell, 2009, p.6). This means that the internalization of the values, culture norms and ethical standards is necessary for one to be considered to have gone through full professional socialization. The values of different professions vary. In nursing, students learn through a procedural culture and in the end acquire the occupational identity of the profession. A student nurse does not acquire full professional socialization until after a long spell of practice. Class work alone is not enough. Rather, full professional socialization is acquired through a process of longevity that takes place throughout the nursing career.
Stages of professional socialization
As a process, professional socialization involves four stages. A nursing practitioner has to undergo each stage at a time as they maneuver the nursing profession. Through formal and informal socialization, a student will learn a lot about the nature and course of the nursing profession. The skills that a nurse will acquire include planning nursing care, performing physical examinations and effectively communicating with the client. According to Claywell, the four stages in acquiring nursing consciousness and professional knowledge are unilateral dependence, Negativity/independence, Dependence/mutuality and Interdependence.
Stage I: Unilateral Dependence
Unilateral dependence is the first stage and in this stage, a student nurse is highly reliant on external authority. This is because, during this time, student nurse lacks the basis to analyze situations and make decisions on their own. They cannot question what they are asked to do and only do things in accordance to the instructions disseminated to them. This stage marks the beginning of the identity of the nursing profession.
Stage II: Negativity/independence
At this stage, the student nurse begins to have the ability and expertise to analyze some aspects. However, this is only driven by cognitive rebellion. The extent to which the nurse relies on external authorities also begins to diminish step by step. This observed changed can be attributed to the fact that the student’s knowledge and thinking capabilities will have expanded unlike the case in the first stage.
Stage III: Dependence/mutuality
At this stage, the student nurse begins to appraise reasoned facts. Though objective testing, the student can analyze facts and provide his/her opinion (Ellis & Hartley, 2012, p.46). Furthermore, instead of jumping into the ideas of other people without question, the student will be at a position to analyze these ideas before fully acknowledging the. The student will have developed realistic appraisal characteristics to learn and test concepts and facts objectively.
Stage IV: Interdependence
This is the last stage of professional socialization and here, a student nurse will have developed a great deal of commitment to adopt into the professional role. Students can be identified with the profession through their values and behavior. Being independent, a student nurse can also jointly share his/her experiences with fellow practitioners.
Currently, through my own assessment, I could say that I am experiencing the dependence stage. It is premature to say that I am at the independence stage even though I may not be too far from it. I can internalize and make professional decisions or give an opinion through facts. I also have the ability to test concepts objectively and develop a realistic appraisal. The rationale of such development is vital to my professional growth. This is because my skills so far will be enough to guide me in moving towards the independence stage where I will be able to bear all characteristics of the nursing professional identity.
My ability to accomplish the independence stage could be hampered by certain barriers. The first is communication. Although I bear adequate communication skills required for a full professional nurse, I believe that communication is more than just one way. This means that it depends on other close associates at the work place. I will be in a better position to grow if I get positive responses from colleagues. Good communication will also act as a reinforcement to my career development. However, when there is a lack of effective communication at the workplace, my development will be significantly impeded.
The other barrier would be support. Support comes from various areas and includes aspects such as motivation and appreciation for a job well done. At a personal level, motivation from family and personal friends is paramount. The level of appreciation at the workplace will increase my morale and attitude to do the best and deliver all that I can and at the same time, it will assist in the building of my nursing career.
I would counter the communication barrier through personal motivation. This entails doing my routine work with passion regardless of the culture and values of external sources. I would not mind being criticized provided that one’s criticisms are derived from a credible basis. However, I would stand firm if the criticism is from malicious sources that lack credibility. I would also improve my communication skills at a personal level in order to instill change at my working environment. I would deal with support issues through building a high self-esteem and always being concerned with what I do. I would not give others the chance to discourage me, and I would also not allow myself to have any room for personal disappointment. I will always stand by the code of ethics in the nursing profession.
LPN and RN Roles
Communication skills are vital in the nursing profession. A student nurse will have to acquire effective communication skills for them to deliver a good job. For a nurse to provide effective nursing care, factors that influence communication must be at prime at any given time. For example, a nurse has to recognize social-cultural differences, issues of gender, territoriality space and the state of the patient (Taylor, Lillis, LeMone & Lynn, 2011, p. 60). Social-cultural differences dictate the course of communication. A certain community does not always communicate like another community. There is always a stark difference, and a nurse has to keep that in mind if they are to thrive at the work place. The issue of gender also dictates the mode of communication. It will not be necessary, for example, a female nurse to provide a detailed diagnosis to a male patient in a situation where a male nurse is present.
Territorial space is also very crucial. Patients will feel the sense of being important and being cared for when they are given space. This is a way of communication that adds value to the nursing profession. When space is lacking, respect will also be lacking, and the relationship between a nurse and the patient will not translate to a good working environment. A nurse has to identify the state of mind of the patient, their emotional, physical or mental state in order to grant them the appropriate amount of space. This requires special understanding, something that is made possible by effective communication skills. Therefore, communication skills are a necessity in providing safe and effective nursing care.
It is the responsibility of a nurse to make sure that patients are attended with dignity and satisfaction. However, this cannot be achieved unless there is a good assessment. A nurse is expected to assess the patient conclusively in order to reveal every detail that is helpful in the process of providing care. When the right environment is created for an effective assessment, the patient will help the nurse in the revelation of every detail that might be helpful in the treatment. This is integral since some parts of the treatment may be left out unattended when poor assessment is done by a nurse. Administering the values of culture and human dignity will prepare the patient well enough for the treatment process.
The first step for administering effective assessment is to identify the state of mind of the patient. The task becomes relatively easy in a situation where a nurse is dealing with a normal patient. However, some special attention may be required in the case of a mentally unstable patient. The nurse has to bear various skills that needed to win over the patient at first sight. Here, the use of polite language and demonstrating sympathy is key. The patient will feel the environment soothing and will open up, hence helping a nurse to do their obligation effectively. Effective assessment will always result into a satisfactory service to patients.
The nurse has the responsibility to convey the intention of treatment that a patient is about to undergo. After the communication and assessment, touching may be required as part of the treatment process. Therapeutic touch is very different to any other kind of touch. Furthermore, people interpret touch differently. The nurse has to understand cultural factors that dictate the context of touch. Touches convey a message, and the nurse must only touch the patient when this is part of the treatment process. If the nurse lacks adequate knowledge on such aspects, there is always going to be a gap between the two hence the patient will not be satisfied with the service. Eventually, the nurse will not have carried his/her role in accordance with the professional code and standard of work.
As discussed above, professional socialization has a significant role in the success of any profession. It gives a good reputational identity to a profession. For nurses, practitioners have to demonstrate high standards of experience in the provision of services if they can stand a chance to build a successful career. Understanding the stages of professional socialization in the nursing profession will provide nurses with techniques to identify and deal with the barriers that hinder their development (Potter & Perry, 2009, p. 10). The plan to establish a strong sense of professionalism involves a great deal of self-awareness and commitment to the roles of professional nursing. Observation of protocols in the process is also helpful in shaping one’s behavior and ensuring that they abide by the professional nursing code of conduct.
Claywell, L. (2009). LPN to RN transitions (2nd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.
Ellis, J. R., & Hartley, C. L. (2012). Nursing in today's world: Trends, issues, & management (10th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Potter, P. A., & Perry, A. G. (2009). Fundamentals of nursing. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.
Taylor, C., Lillis, C., LeMone, P., & Lynn, P. (2011). Fundamentals of nursing: The art and science of nursing care (7th ed.). Princeton, NJ: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.