Background: Professional nurses play a significant role in the professional socialisation of learners as learners look up to them as seniors. Learners come into the profession with the values and norms from the different societies where they grew up. These learners do not possess the ethics and skills in the nursing profession and rely on professional nurses to pass these qualities. The objective of the study was to explore the perception of professional nurses regarding their role as role models in the profession.
Methods: A qualitative, explorative design was used to collect data from professional nurses. No probability purposive sampling was used to select professional nurses working at sampled hospitals where learners are placed for clinical practice. The selection criteria were an experience of three years and above in professional socialisation of learners. Data was collected through a semi structured interview. An interview guide was used to ask the appropriate questions related to the role modelling of professional nurses in the profession. Data was collected until saturation was reached. Tesch’s open coding system was used to analyse data
Results: The findings revealed that professional nurses acknowledged their responsibilities role modelling of the profession in professional socialisation of learners. Three main themes that emerged from the study were professional nurses as mentors, professional nurses as teachers and professional nurses as competent practitioners. Professional nurses were aware of their role in transferring the ethical skills and knowledge to learners during clinical placement. However professional nurses also acknowledged that there were incidences where professional nurses behave in a manner that does not promote exemplary role modelling.
Conclusion: The professional nurses should uphold the moral ethics of the profession always to teach learners the correct and acceptable behaviour and conduct in the profession. Children learn from adults therefore the learners copy the conducts of the adults in the profession. Through teaching in the clinical areas, professional nurses transfer the skills that they have. Mostly teaching in the clinical areas is informal and observed. Therefore, professional nurses should use teachable moments to transfer skills. Lastly the professional nurse is expected to be a competent practitioner. Learners learn these skills when professional nurses are executing them. The competent practitioner is also confident in practice.