Five pathways into one profession: Fifty years of debate on differentiated nursing practice

Hugo Schalkwijk*, Martijn Felder, Pieterbas Lalleman, Manon S. Parry, Lisette Schoonhoven, Iris Wallenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

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The persistence of multiple educational pathways into the nursing profession continues to occupy scholars internationally. In the Netherlands, various groups within the Dutch healthcare sector have tried to differentiate nursing practice on the basis of educational backgrounds for over 50 years. Proponents argue that such reforms are needed to retain bachelor-trained nurses, improve quality of care and strengthen nurses' position in the sector. Opponents have actively resisted reforms because they would mainly benefit bachelor-trained nurses and neglect practical experience and technical skills. This historical case study aims to provide insight in this apparent stalemate. Our analysis of this debate is informed by literature on institutional work and current debates within the historiography of nursing. This study contributes to a better understanding of this contemporary debate by examining a broader timeframe than is usually studied, and by highlighting nurses' roles in complex processes of change. We argue that, rather than being stuck in their professional development, different groups of nurses have forged their own path forward in their professional development, albeit via different strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12631
JournalNursing Inquiry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Nursing Inquiry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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