Becoming a psychiatric/mental health nurse in the UK: a qualitative study exploring processes of identity formation
Hurley, J & Lakeman, R 2011, 'Becoming a psychiatric/mental health nurse in the UK: a qualitative study exploring processes of identity formation', Issues in Mental Health Nursing, vol. 32, no. 12, pp. 745-751.
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Identity studies are well established across the social science literature with mental health nursing beginning to offer evidenced insights into what may, or may not, constitute key identity performances. For mental health nursing these performances remain contested, both from within the profession and from international contexts that favour generic constructions of mental health. This paper offers findings from a qualitative study that focused upon the process of how mental health nursing identity development is influenced, rather than what that identity may or may not be. These findings highlight that mental health nurses (MHNs) not only form their identity around service user centred education and training, but that many also use the education as a means to leave the profession. Through highlighting the impact of informal education (i.e., through work), formal education, and training upon the formation of mental health nursing identity, nurses are potentially alerted to the importance of clinically focussed mental health being prominent within curricula, rewarding mental health nursing skills specialisation, and the importance of the role of the service user in mental health nurse education and, hence, identity formation.