Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Health Science (Hons.)


School of Nursing


Western Australian College of Advanced Education


This study describes clinically practising nurses’ perceptions of professionalism and compares these with reports of nurses’ perceptions of professionalism in the published literature. A phenomenological approach was chosen to identify and interpret the phenomena (professionalism). Ten Registered Nurses representing a range of clinical nursing positions were interviewed on the subject. Data were analysed using an interpretive methodology which identified themes and meanings. Credibility of results was established through participant validation of the identified themes and meanings and by researcher and data triangulation. The study identified six themes common to all participants’ descriptions: expertise based upon a sound education, continued learning, and clinical skill; caring which involved communication skills, mutual trust and respect, and holistic nondiscriminatory care; an image which portrayed a professional persona, expertise and commitment; recognition of expertise by the public and other health workers; unity promoted through professional organisations; and finally autonomy. These themes were in agreement with the concept of professionalism as published in the literature.