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Posted: September 7th, 2023

Effects of a Professional Identity Development Program on Nurses’ Professional Identity

Effects of a Professional Identity Development Program on Nurses’ Professional Identity, Job Satisfaction, and Burnout Levels
Nursing is a demanding profession that requires dedication to patient care while navigating complex healthcare systems. Maintaining a strong professional identity can help nurses feel empowered in their roles and less susceptible to burnout. However, the transition from nursing school to clinical practice presents challenges to professional identity development. Hospital administrators seek strategies to support new nurses as they acclimate to the demands of the job. This article examines the effects of a professional identity development program on nurses’ professional identity, job satisfaction, and burnout.
Professional Identity Development Program
The studied hospital implemented a year-long professional identity development program for new nurses. The program consisted of monthly seminars focused on cultivating professional identity, navigating workplace relationships, prioritizing self-care, and developing resilience. Experienced nurses and nurse managers led the seminars and shared lessons from their own careers. Between seminars, new nurses participated in guided journaling activities and one-on-one coaching sessions with program facilitators.
The program aimed to help nurses see themselves as professionals and feel empowered in their roles. It also sought to prevent burnout by teaching strategies for maintaining work-life balance and coping with job stressors. Overall, the goal was for nurses to feel more satisfied in their work due to stronger professional identity and resilience.
The study employed a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the program’s effects. A sample of 75 new nurses who participated in the program were compared to a control group of 75 new nurses who did not participate. Both groups completed surveys at baseline and one year to measure professional identity, job satisfaction, and burnout.
Professional identity was assessed using the Professional Identity Scale for Nurses. This 22-item scale evaluates perceptions of autonomy, nurse values internalization, and professional self-concept. Job satisfaction was measured using the McCloskey/Mueller Satisfaction Scale, a 31-item tool addressing satisfaction with extrinsic and intrinsic aspects of nursing work. Burnout was evaluated using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, a 22-item scale assessing emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment.
Analysis of survey results found statistically significant differences between the program and control groups in all measured areas after one year. Nurses who participated in the professional identity development program reported stronger professional identity, higher job satisfaction, and lower burnout levels compared to the control group.
Specifically regarding professional identity, the program group scored significantly higher on perceptions of autonomy, internalization of nurse values, and professional self-concept after completing the program. For job satisfaction, they reported greater satisfaction with interactions with patients/families, professional opportunities, praise/recognition, and control/responsibility.
In terms of burnout, the program group experienced significantly lower levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization along with higher feelings of personal accomplishment in their work. These results suggest the program helped nurses feel more empowered and resilient in their roles as healthcare professionals.
This study provides evidence that a targeted professional identity development program can positively impact nurses as they transition into clinical practice. By cultivating a strong professional identity early in their careers, nurses may feel more equipped to handle job demands and prevent burnout. The program’s focus on self-care, resilience, and navigating workplace relationships also seemed to support greater job satisfaction and well-being.
Some limitations include the use of a quasi-experimental design and potential bias from self-reported surveys. Additionally, the study was conducted at a single hospital, so generalizability may be limited. Future research could employ randomized controlled trials across multiple sites to strengthen conclusions. Longitudinal follow-up would also help determine if benefits are sustained long-term.
Overall, the results suggest professional identity development programs deserve consideration as a strategy to empower new nurses and prevent burnout. With nursing shortages an ongoing concern, supporting nurses’ well-being and retention is critical. This cost-effective program presents one approach to positively impacting nurses and the healthcare system.
Ahn, Y. H., & Choi, J. S. (2020). The effects of nursing professional identity, job satisfaction, and turnover intention on nurse burnout. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing Administration, 26(1), 57–67.
Blegen, M. A., Spector, N., Lynn, M. R., Barnsteiner, J., & Ulrich, B. T. (2017). Newly licensed RN retention. Journal of Nursing Administration, 47(10), 508–514.
Cai, C., Zhou, Z., Zhang, Y., & Wang, Y. (2019). Prevalence and predictors of compassion fatigue among Chinese nurses: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 96, 1–7.
Koh, L. C., Chong, W. C., Neo, P. S. H., Ong, Y. L., & Lim, T. K. (2016). Professional identity, organizational commitment and turnover intention: A study of nurses in Singapore. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 30(4), 574–590.

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