Background: The health care paradigm is being challenged to put greater emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle and provide patient-customized care in a rapidly changing Korean society. Within such changes, it is worthwhile to identify how the meaning of a good nurse may be changing. Objective: This study explores the meaning of a good nurse from the perspective of nurses themselves. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with ten nurses who worked at senior general hospitals or governmental agencies using purposeful sampling. Individual interviews were done until data saturation was reached. The key question was “What does a good nurse mean to you?" After the interview, content analysis was done. Results: Six main themes and 16 subthemes were identified. The main themes showed that a good nurse was someone who ‘leans in toward the patient’, ‘provides professional care’, ‘keeps the cornerstone of one’s mind with a positive attitude’, ‘maintains a good relationship with colleagues’, ‘matures with her/his nursing philosophy and conviction’, ‘contributes to society’. Conclusion: This study provides basic data for exploring nurses’ self-image as a professional. Specifically, social role and macro level responsibilities were identified with nurses’ internal aspects such as a positive attitude, and nursing philosophy. The necessity of socio-environmental support for nurses was also emphasized. In addition, the results of this study can be used at the policy level to provide a better balance for development of good nursing.
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