Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 249–274 | Cite as

Educated Caring: The Emergence of Professional Identity Among Nurses

  • Ester Carolina Apesoa-Varano


This article examines the formation of occupational identity in a nursing program. The normative and ideological dimensions of this process are revealed in the program’s goals and the views of educators and students through qualitative data from observations and 30 in-depth interviews. Educators seek to socialize students toward professionalism to raise the occupation’s status by emphasizing the scientific and technical basis of nursing. Yet students uphold a gendered discourse by identifying a normative dimension of caring as central to their occupational identity. The dilemma between professionalism and caring is reconciled as students construct an occupational identity based on “educated caring,” where these two dimensions are equally valuable and significant.


Nurses Professionalism Caring Education Science Gender 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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