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Nursing Research and Practice
Volume 2012, Article ID 946063, 8 pages
Research Article

Becoming Socialized into a New Professional Role: LPN to BN Student Nurses' Experiences with Legitimation

1Centre for Nursing and Health Studies, Athabasca University, Athabasca, AB, Canada T9S 3A3
2Mental Health and Addictions Services, Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 2T9
3School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Community Studies, Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB, Canada T3E 6K6

Received 11 October 2011; Revised 3 January 2012; Accepted 11 January 2012

Academic Editor: Mary A. Blegen

Copyright © 2012 Sherri Melrose et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper presents findings from a qualitative descriptive study that explored the professional socialization experiences of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) who attended an online university to earn a Baccalaureate degree in nursing (BN), a prerequisite to writing the Canadian Registered Nurse (RN) qualifying exam. The project was framed from a constructivist worldview and Haas and Shaffir’s theory of legitimation. Participants were 27 nurses in a Post-LPN to BN program who came from across Canada to complete required practicums. Data was collected from digital recordings of four focus groups held in different cities. Transcripts were analyzed for themes and confirmed with participants through member checking. Two overarching themes were identified and are presented to explain how these unique adult learners sought to legitimize their emerging identity as Registered Nurses (RNs). First, Post-LPN to BN students need little, if any, further legitimation to affirm their identities as “nurse.” Second, practicum interactions with instructors and new clinical experiences are key socializing agents.