Vertical violence and the student nurse: Is this toxic for professional identity development?

Sherri Williams Cantey

Abstract

This narrative inquiry centers on student nurses' stories of vertical violence perpetuated by clinical registered nursing staff and the meaning that students associate with this phenomenon. Student nurses are the very young and potentially impressionable members of our profession; therefore, a concern of this study was if vertical violence affects professional identity development for the student nurse. Additionally through stories revealed by these participants, this study attempted to explore whether perceptions of violence are believed to be a rite of passage into the profession. Students are the future of our profession, and it is important that this phenomenon be understood from the students' perspectives. Nurse leaders must be aware of vertical violence for the very reason that it may be affecting the young of the profession. Students will become the future healthcare workers that care for patients, that become our employees, and that speak for our profession one day. It is important that leaders be aware of what affects them, which can in turn affect our healthcare organizations and the quality of care that patients receive. Through narrative inquiry, this research was intended to elicit stories as a way to construct meaning of vertical violence from the student nurses' perspectives in order to better understand this phenomenon of interest. The participants in this study were in their final year of nursing education at a university located in the southeast United States and were subjected to vertical violence in the clinical setting by clinical staff registered nurses. The participant sample size included four registered nursing students from the generic class, and necessary information pertaining to the study was given to each. All four nursing student participants verbally agreed and signed the informed consent for inclusion in the study. Participants were instructed that they may withdraw from the study at any time. Through narrative inquiry, the researcher conducted two 1-hour interviews with each participant. This allowed for collection of data in the initial hour with a follow-up interview for participant check of original data and clarification. It was the aim of this study to attempt to convey the meaning of the students' perspectives of vertical violence and how it affected their professional identity development as the future generation of the profession.