Undergraduate nursing students' adoption of the professional identity of nursing through social media use: A qualitative descriptive study

Muna Alharbi, Lisa Kuhn, Julia Morphet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Previous research has addressed nursing course components such as clinical placements that affect students' socialisation processes and the development of their professional identities. Social media is an increasingly important factor that has not yet been explored in-depth in terms of its influence on the development of the professional identity of nursing and is a major gap in our knowledge and understanding of undergraduate nurses' development. Objective: To understand the influence of social media usage on the development of undergraduate nursing students' professional identity. Design: Descriptive qualitative study. Setting: Two universities in Saudi Arabia. Participants: Sixteen undergraduate nursing students. Methods: Semi-structured and audio-recorded interviews were undertaken between November 2018 and January 2019. The transcribed data were thematically analysed using NVivo 12. Results: Three main themes emerged: Learning about nursing professional identity through social media, adopting the identity of nursing, and students sharing their understanding of nursing professional identity via social media. Students used social media to learn about the nursing profession, and this helped them to develop a sense of belonging to the nursing profession. The students also used social media to share their experiences as nursing students and to enhance society's understanding of the importance of the nursing profession. Conclusion: Undergraduate nursing students should be encouraged to develop their professional identity through socialisation. Social media can facilitate the socialisation process of undergraduate nursing students by connecting them with members of the nursing community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104488
Number of pages8
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Professional identity
  • Social media
  • Socialisation
  • Undergraduate nursing students

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