Ambiguous socialization into nursing: Discourses of intimate care

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Performing intimate care (IC) according to patient needs, ethical
considerations and clinical guidelines is central to nursing. In Danish
nursing education, learning objectives of IC, e.g. bed bath, shower assistance
and basic catheter care are covered in the first year of nursing
education. IC is a focus of the first 10-week clinical placement, it is
taught in the clinical skills laboratory (CSL), and it constitutes a theoretical
subject presented in textbooks. IC is known to pose a challenge
to nurses and student nurses and the current body of literature links the
challenges to issues of gender and sexuality. In this paper, we explore
discourses of IC across educational practices: textbooks, a CSL session
and clinical placement. By exploring how IC, as a key concept and
practice in nursing, is talked about and carried out in different educational
contexts, the paper contributes to the formation of future nurses'
understanding of nursing. The research aims to show how different
discursive practices of IC shape students' professional selves and their
understanding of the nursing profession. The paper thus adds to the
existing bulk of knowledge of IC by proposing that IC is understood in
terms of an “ambiguous socializer”, because of the shifting and contradictory
establishment of IC discursive practices. The paper draws
upon the definition of IC as “the nurse-patient interaction where the
nurse enters the person's private zones (such as genitalia and breasts) in
the provision of task-orientated care such as showering and toileting”
(O'Lynn et al., referred to in Mainey et al., 2018, p. 48). We include
tasks related to catheter care.
TidsskriftNurse Education Today
Udgave nummer75
Sider (fra-til)1-5
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2019


  • Nurses
  • Nurse education
  • Clinical education
  • Intimate care
  • education and work

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