Ambiguous socialization into nursing: Discourses of intimate care

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number75
Pages (from-to)1-5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Cite this