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Power and Professional Autonomy: Nurses and their
The purpose of this study is to explore current professional status of nurses in hospitals. It focuses on the nature of nursing as a profession and the professional autonomy of nurses in workplace. To address these issues, the researcher takes a power-oriented perspective and examines t five dimensions of professionalization, i.e., redefining nursing profession, professional autonomy, advanced education, license system and coverage of National Health Insurance. The researcher also adopts individual interviewing, focus group discussions and secondary data analysis methods. Doctors and nurses in a selected hospital are the major objects of interviewing. Results indicate that nurses have made much progress in terms of advancement of professional education, professional autonomy, professional organization and professional ethic. In contrast, labor conditions such as salary reduction, human resource downsizing, restriction on recruitment, constant after-hour work and decreasing benefits, are degrading nurses’ professional status. These results demonstrate that it is not important to redefine the concept of professionalism. Instead, mobilization and gaining of power is more essential. In other words, professionalism is negative output of political process. Its aim is to obtain privilege and prestige of professional position. This result verifies the hypothesis that the influence of professionalism on society tends to be negative. To promote their status in the process of professionalization, nurses need to engage more in politics, to struggle for nurses’ roles inside hospitals, to push national policy reforms and to claim for National Health Insurance’s coverage of nurses’ service.
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