Exploring the Identity of the Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse in Industry: An Interpretative Analysis of Professional Ecology



Contextual Rationale: A subculture of CWOCNs are employed in industry by medical device manufacturers and distributors. Roles for nurses in industry are multiplying within the United States, their integration within the process of medical device life cycle design enhances clinical relevance. A gap exists in the literature on this topic.

Purpose: This investigation fills a gap in the evidence base of this nursing subculture, establishes identity and legitimatizes role within the institution of nursing, defining professional ecology of nurses within medical device industry, while providing a safe platform for nurses to speak.

Methodology: Qualitative study facilitates broad interpretative lens to embrace subjective meaning. Iterative process of descriptive and interpretative analysis with cross verification of contextual data. Dual investigator role as insider and researcher, strategizing the problem of familiarity, using reflexivity and triangulation of data. Purposive sampling from the investigator’s professional network. Inclusion criteria defined. Two methods of data collection; one face to face focus group and a series of one on one interviews.

Theoretical Framework: Symbolic Interactionism informs the methodology and grounds cultural identity in subjective meaning and empirical world. Three guiding principles of Symbolic Interactionism frame this study.

Data Analysis: Using verbatim transcription, immersion into the data facilitated analysis and coding of emerging themes. Contextual terrain was mind-mapped, using fieldwork; transcripts, journal, analytical memos, notes and visual imagery. Qualitative validity was addressed using triangulation, full transparency, a strategy to fight familiarity and reflexivity.

Findings: Richly detailed data and thick description extended findings beyond definition of identity and role. Demonstrate boundary work to establish a new ecological construct, precedence in the professional literature. Social capital is knowledge and expertise as applied in a new zone of practice.

Conclusion: Study reveals evidence to contextualize a new zone of practice that is a model of boundary work to professionalization.

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