Research topic/aim
This paper discusses differences and similarities comparing professional identity in the context of educations for Nurse, Teacher, Social Worker and Bachelor of Nutrition and Health at a University College. The aim is to compare/contrast what respectively students and educators in the different professional educations emphasize as central elements in the professional identity in their profession including their perspectives on the external understanding of the professions.

Theoretical framework
Professional identity formation during a professional education and in professional practice can be conceptualized as a fluid and socially negotiated process. In the international literature ‘professionally identity’ is used both about the personal and individual understanding of yourself as a professional and the collective group-identity. In relation to the latter previous research show that identity in the professions is developing in contemporary times in negotiation with related professions, the technological development, political agendas etc. This also potentially affects the personal professional identity. There are a range of international studies about professional identity for nurses and teachers, but a lack of comparative studies. With the growing awareness of the importance of professional identity in the preparation for professional work there is a need for more research situated in higher education. Theoretically we refer to practice theory emphasizing the situated and socially negotiated character of professional identity.

Methodological design
The empirical materials are group interviews with students and educators from the four different educations analyzed by reflexive thematic analysis. Both groups are asked about the collective professional identity and the students also about their (pre)professional identity. The part of the interview focusing on experiences with external understandings was mediated by pictures from a systematic search.

Expected conclusions/findings
The analyses show that empathy in human relations is emphasized by informants from all four educations. There are however also differences including different tensions related to the external understanding of the professions. The educators and student nurses challenge the picture of the nurse as a “nice girl”. They refer to the identity in the profession as challenged due to present political tensions related to salary and recognition. The student teachers often must defense their educational choice to friends and family who refer to a stressful occupation, and they position themselves in opposition to the traditional picture of transmissive teaching. Both student and educators from the education for social workers refer to a strong sense of justice also with an international reference, but there are tensions between the ideal of critical social work and the contemporary work in public administration. Bachelor of Nutrition and Health is a new and somewhat diffuse profession. They refer to tensions between professional knowledge and self-proclaimed health prophets. Perspectives related to facilitating discussions with the students about the tensions and dilemmas due to professional occupations inherently entailing a deep integration in the social fabric and broader societal context will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2024
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2024
EventNERA 2024: Adventures of Education: Desires, Encounters and Differences - Malmö University, Malmo, Sweden
Duration: 6 Mar 20248 Mar 2024


ConferenceNERA 2024: Adventures of Education: Desires, Encounters and Differences
LocationMalmö University
Internet address

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