Background. The background to this study was a concern about the teacher's role in clinical practice. Experience suggested that teachers believed that their role in practice was important but that there were significant forces which impeded their ability to move with ease between education and practice. A discrepancy between previous research findings and theoretical discussions, and the reality experienced by teachers, led to the adoption of grounded theory as a way of exploring uncertainties in the situation. Method. Data were gathered over a period of 7 years and involved 28 in-depth interviews with nurses with a range of educational roles, employed in educational institutions and practice settings in inner city and provincial areas in the South of England. Findings. The data revealed four categories, 'gaining access', 'negotiating credibility', 'being effective' and the core category 'negotiating multiple roles'. The core category is addressed in this article. Experiences of moving from a position of clinical practitioner to link teacher involved: 'disassembling the self' through leaving behind old identities; 'reconstructing the self' through clarifying new ways of being; and, finally, 'realizing the self' through reciprocal interpersonal activity with students, educational and nursing colleagues. Conclusions. It is inevitable that an individual with a remit for change entering an established social group will experience difficulties in establishing their role. It is also clear that an individual who changes their role within a group to reflect behaviours not congruent with the primary activity in that setting will experience dimensions of social exclusion. Further work needs to address how educational roles can make a significant impact on the everyday lives of students and nurses working in practice. The findings of this study are as relevant for the new roles of practice educator, clinical facilitator and practice placement co-ordinator as they are for link teachers and lecturer practitioners. Several suggestions are made to improve links with practice.
- grounded theory, role theory, link teachers, lecturer practitioners, practice educators, nurse teachers