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What is Professional Identity in Nursing?

Learn about Professional Identity in Nursing, its history, formation, and initiative

"A sense of oneself, and in relation to others, that is influenced by characteristics, norms, and values of the nursing discipline, resulting in an individual thinking, acting, and feeling like a nurse"

We like to say that nursing is a very old profession but a very young discipline. Unlike other fields, professionalism has not been clearly defined in nursing. For regulatory, practice and educational purposes, it is important for individuals to have a clear sense of professional identity, which starts in the classroom.

At one time, medicine faced a similar dilemma. They found that explicit focus on formation as part of the educational experience led to better student outcomes.

Medical schools now incorporate professional identity formation into course offerings, simulation, and curricular standards. Pharmacy, veterinary medicine and physical therapy are following suit and have incorporated professional identity formation within their curricula (Godfrey, et al., 2020). We hope to accomplish the same with nursing.

To that end, we are working with nursing colleagues in the U.S. and abroad to define what it means to be a nurse and to refine the associated concepts, domains and definitions.

Domains and Definitions: Professional Identity in Nursing

  • Value and Ethics – A set core of values and principles that guide conduct.
  • Knowledge – Analysis and application of information derived from nursing and other disciplines, experiences, critical reflection and scientific discovery. 
  • Nurse as Leader - Inspiring self and others to transform a shared vision into reality.
  • Professional Comportment - A nurse’s professional behavior demonstrated through words, actions and presence.  

Contact us

KU School of Nursing

University of Kansas Medical Center
Professional Identity in Nursing
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Mail Stop 2029
Kansas City, KS 66160