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Lived Experiences of Nurses: Nurse Characteristics by Clinical Specialty

2011, BS, Kent State University, College of Nursing.

Purpose: Individual characteristics may influence nurses’ choice of clinical specialties. Despite reports concerning general consistency of personality type across specialties, differences among specialties exist and may require unique skill sets. Thus, it is arguable that nurses across specialties may have unique traits. These traits may influence why some nurses choose and excel in specific clinical specialties. The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experiences of nurses as told by the participants and interpret the narrative data to gain understanding of how they enacted nursing in their clinical specialty, identifying themes related to a nurse’s sense of clinical fit across specialties.

Theoretical Framework: As a philosophy of science and method of interpretation, hermeneutic analysis provided information regarding participants’ subjective sense of fit between their individual characteristics and their clinical area of expertise.

Participants: Nine clinically-expert nurse faculty members, familiar with student and clinician characteristics, specializing in pediatric nursing, mental health nursing, maternal health nursing, oncology nursing, medical-surgical nursing, telemetry nursing, emergency nursing, critical care nursing, and perioperative nursing.

Methods: Qualitative investigation described nurse characteristics across specialties. Interviews and demographic assessments were conducted with a purposive sample. Data were analyzed using Lanigan’s approach to Heideggarian hermeneutics. Responses were sorted to identify characteristics by theme according to specialty. Data description, reduction, and interpretation resulted in better nurse characteristic understanding. The method supported auditability of themes and supports the credibility of the investigator’s interpretations.

Results: Similarities and variances emerged among participants across specialties. Analysis revealed a continuum between interpersonal nurse focus and environmental nurse focus. In addition, the investigator subjectively assigned patient independency as another element that may be related. The result was a grid illustrating this relationship.

Conclusion: Upon initial analysis, there are notable differences in characteristics among nurses by clinical specialty. Understanding these characteristics may assist nurse clinicians, educators, and administrators in optimizing nurse clinical specialty. Further research may help determine the stability and relevance of these variances. Results may provide a foundation for future studies related to job satisfaction and turnover.

Laura Dzurec, PhD (Advisor)
Stidham Warner, PhD (Advisor)
Mary Beth Lukach, MSN (Committee Member)
Patricia Tomich, PhD (Committee Member)
Sara Newman, PhD (Committee Member)
75 p.

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Barreca, R. (2011). Lived Experiences of Nurses: Nurse Characteristics by Clinical Specialty. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

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Barreca, Rebecca. "Lived Experiences of Nurses: Nurse Characteristics by Clinical Specialty." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2011. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 27 May 2018.

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Barreca, Rebecca "Lived Experiences of Nurses: Nurse Characteristics by Clinical Specialty." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2011.


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