Journal of Professional Nursing

“Exemplary” Nurses – An Exploration of the Phenomenon

Rae Noble-Adams RGON, BSc (Hons) Clinical Nurse Educator, Gynaecology Services, Christchurch Women’s Hospital, Christchurch

Reference:  Noble-Adams, R. (2001). "Exemplary" Nurses - An exploration of the phenomenon. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, (17)1, 24-33.


In this paper the author discusses the phenomenon of “exemplary” nurses, a phrase coined to describe nurses considered to be the finest of the profession. A literature review was carried out in order to establish the concept of “exemplary” nurses as a preparatory step in the author’s research. While this phenomenon is not fully conceptualised within the nursing literature it can be inferred from a number of descriptions of possible composite concepts. These include selected personality traits, altruism, caring, expert practice, vocation or having ‘a calling’, the nursepatient relationship, commitment, work excitement, positive energy and having a ‘star’ quality. This author believes that identification of the characteristics of these nurses is important for the nursing profession. To be able to explain expert nursing and describe what makes some nurses exemplary will help in articulating the full nature and significance of nursing to both the lay public, and colleagues.  

Exemplary nurse, profession’s finest, literature review   

The word “exemplary” is a term I have coined to describe nurses who appear to be the profession’s finest across a range of criteria. In so much as they are the ones who epitomise the positive aspects of nursing, they are those whom others wish to role model, and who are most respected by patients. These nurses are not only clinical experts, but also have other special qualities which make them stand out. Their rewards are likely to be intrinsic - arising from trying to be the best nurse they can rather than from, for instance, salary level, or convenience of working hours (Mabbett, 1987) or proximity of workplace (Cohen & Sater, 1992).  Continued   

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