From healthcare assistant to registered nurse: an exploration of the status of knowledge in the experience of role transition

Bryant, Kevin Ronald (2017) From healthcare assistant to registered nurse: an exploration of the status of knowledge in the experience of role transition. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of 2017BryantKREdD.pdf]
Download (1MB) | Preview


This study explores the status of knowledge during the transition experienced by healthcare assistants (HCAs) becoming registered nurses. It also seeks to highlight the tension between the representation of ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ forms of knowledge in nursing higher education and in healthcare practice.
Twenty former HCAs were interviewed. Eight were nurses who had taken the Diploma of Higher Education several years earlier and twelve were students currently taking the BSc in nursing. Bernstein’s knowledge code theory informed the theoretical basis of this work, which draws extensively on Maton’s legitimation code theory (LCT) (Maton, 2014). The specialisation device of LCT was used to identify expressions of epistemic knowing and social knowing in participant interviews. The semantic device was used to identify expressions of semantic density and semantic gravity.
Findings show how knowledge affects the whole social, cognitive and statutory transition described here. It is a core component of the decision-making process from accessing the health care sector as HCA, to engaging in the project of becoming a nurse. Knowledge is also central to the expressions and attitudes of recognition or condescension received by HCAs in daily practice from patients, nurses and other health care professionals. It is an element of power used by nurses in particular to maintain occupational separation from HCAs.
Knowledge also formed the backdrop to various challenges encountered by former HCAs during the nursing course at university and when returning as a student to clinical placements. Findings suggest that nursing higher education frames HCA knowledge as the ‘wrong kind of knowledge’ and HCAs as the ‘wrong kind of knower’. This imposes a form of relegation of their embodied knowledge in the process of changing role and status within the health sector.
Findings are of interest to government agencies and the higher education and healthcare sectors.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Zoe White
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2018 15:09
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2018 15:09


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item