Burden of being a nurse: a case study on retired nurses’ occupational experiences in Turkey

Bircan, Seray
In this thesis, the main objective is to understand the changing occupational experiences of retired nurses throughout their working years between 1988 and 2020 within three periods (1988-1998, 1999-2009, 2010-2020) that corresponds to major changes in distribution of healthcare service in Turkey within neoliberal policies. The rationalization attempts in medical settings, aim for standardization in care work, and process and flexibilization in the responsibilities to increase multifunctionality will be important to understand the process of professional building of nurses in Turkey. In addition to that, gender as a control mechanism in the medical field is reflected on their occupational experience within the restructuring in the healthcare system. Therefore, this thesis is constructed through trajectories of participants while locating them in a historical transformation regarding Turkish health system. I argue that effects of neoliberal policies on Turkish healthcare system put nurses into a vulnerable position in terms of their profession, and they become distant from their main jurisdictional areas and lost their domination areas. Nurses’ occupational boundaries and responsibilities become stretched and flexible; the working environment become insecure and their labor become invisible in medical field. By also focusing on the resistance and adaptation strategies to these alterations, I draw a framework for de-passivized agency in this process, rather than describing them as victims of the changes. They resisted through emphasizing care process by upgrading its importance despite of increasing work burden over peripheral activities to reconstruct themselves as a crucial agency in the medical field over the years.