The nature of United Kingdom (UK) nursing education has changed significantly as the responsibility has been transferred from hospitals to the University sector. More information is needed on the outcome of the Project 2000 diploma and degree courses given the rapidly changing health care context. This paper focuses on the role socialization of graduate and diploma nurses. As part of a larger study, this research investigated the role orientations of 52 nursing graduates and 28 diplomates from two different universities at three time points; on graduation and at 6 and 12 months postgraduation. The Corwin Role Orientation Scale was selected and modified for the study. It comprised of three separate scales measuring professional, bureaucratic and service orientation. The data from the two groups of nurses were examined to identify nurses' ideal role orientations and role discrepancies over the transitionary period from graduate to qualified nurse. Although the results showed observed differences between the groups over time, none of these differences were statistically significant. The findings raise a number of questions about the value of the instrument as a measure in the contemporary nursing context. Furthermore, each of the Corwin subscales had a low internal reliability. A possible explanation may be that the instrument, which was developed in the United States of America (USA) in the 1960s, and modified, for this study, has little relevance for contemporary UK nursing. The study findings are also limited by the small size of the sample. In spite of these limitations, the study suggests there are few differences between the role orientations and socialization experiences of UK nursing graduates and diplomates. Indeed, both programmes commonly take place in university settings and students receive the same amount of clinical experience. Further instrument development and exploratory research is recommended to identify the role socialization and orientations of UK nurses through larger national studies
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