Since the development of nursing into a full-fledged profession, it has undergone numerous changes to get to its current status. Key among these changes was the restructuring of nursing education, which led to the emergence of the baccalaureate (BSN) nurses. These nurses are highly valued for their overall efficiency and effectiveness as well as for their ability to practice in different environments. They exhibit unique leadership abilities, courtesy of the professional socialization they undergo. As such, this essay elaborates how the process of professional socialization advances the BSN leader identity among contemporary nurses.
BSN nurses, as already noted, are a unique lot because they possess a myriad of skills that are pertinent to nursing practice. Additionally, they are able to operate in a variety of practice environments. These qualities always propel them to the forefront in any practice environment in which they operate. As such, they often assume leadership roles in settings that bring them together with other categories of nurses.
The leadership qualities exhibited by BSN nurses stem from their training. Thus, professional socialization as a process contributes to the BSN leader identity by instilling relevant values, norms, and perceptions in student nurses. It achieves this feat by modeling the role theory, which underscores the need to prepare nurse students to meet their prospective job expectations. The preparation entails interaction with significant others, learning, modeling, instruction, and observation among others. Individuals are expected to play particular roles due to the positions they hold in society.
Consequently, when student nurses are specifically trained to meet the expectations of society, they turn out to be highly esteemed professionals. Thus, the professional socialization process molds the BSN nurse leader identity during the training of student nurses and proceeds to maintain it throughout their practice because the process never stops at any point in nurses’ lives. It builds on the broad-based and in-depth training received by BSN nurses to make them highly effective nurse leaders.
Alternatively, professional socialization can be perceived as an outcome. From this perspective, it contributes to the BSN nurse leader identity by turning a layperson into a professional nurse with all the requisite attributes. Student nurses get socialized through exposure to socialization agents such as patients, instructors, peers, as well as other professionals in the healthcare environment. The skills, knowledge, and leadership qualities acquired by student nurses are, therefore, an outcome of exposure. Therefore, both students and practicing nurses can develop the BSN leader identity and advance it as they continue to interact with and get influenced by situations and the people around them.
In conclusion, it is apparent that professional socialization is the process by which professionals are transformed from laypeople to experts. It is of particular importance to the nursing profession, especially due to the ongoing transition that seeks to transform the entire nursing workforce into BSN nurses. Currently, both BSN and non-BSN nurses acquire critical leadership skills from BSN nurse leaders, both during training and practice through professional socialization. Thus, it works both as a process and an outcome to promote the increasingly desirable BSN nurse leader identity.