Professionalism in nursing is about nurses striving to understand what is expected of them as members of a regulated and licensed profession; and moreover, what their work then looks, feels, and sounds like to themselves, and to those they encounter while in practice.
A focused ethnography was conducted over a four month period, with the purpose of discovering how nursing students understood and then defined, nursing professionalism. Eight key informants shared their knowledge of professionalism through one to one interviews, shadow observations, and one focus group discussion. Data collection and analysis were conducted simultaneously, examining for emerging patterns, descriptions, and relationships that held meaning to these student nurses. The study findings suggest that the experience of professionalism for these informants can be thematically expressed as relationship based: relationships with self, with patients and families, with colleagues, and with the public.