The Influence of Rankism on the Ethical Competence of Student Nurses in a Military Context

  • Karen Zägenhagen
  • Gisela Van Rensburg Department of Health Studies, Unisa
Keywords: Ethical competence, hidden curriculum, military teaching and learning environment, professional socialisation, rankism


Developing ethical competence in nursing is integral to the process of professional socialisation during which students are taught the ethical values and norms of the nursing profession. The process of professional socialisation is however influenced by a range of factors related to the teaching and learning environment, such as organisational culture, teaching practices and role models. Students at a military nursing college are exposed to a unique environment rich in military culture. The findings discussed in this article formed part of a larger grounded theory study that aimed to determine the influence of the hidden curriculum on the professional socialisation of students in a military context. Data were collected from purposefully selected nurse educators and students by means of focus-group interviews and critical incident narratives. Findings revealed a significant influence of the abuse of rank on the ethical competence of students.

Author Biographies

Karen Zägenhagen
Lt ColSAMHS Nursing CollegeDLitt et Phil graduate, Unisa
Gisela Van Rensburg, Department of Health Studies, Unisa
Professor: Department of Health Studies
How to Cite
Zägenhagen, K., & Van Rensburg, G. (2019). The Influence of Rankism on the Ethical Competence of Student Nurses in a Military Context. Scientia Militaria - South African Journal of Military Studies, 46(2), 95-107.