Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science




Dr. Abe Oudshoorn

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Javeed Sukhera


The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the experience of nursing practice while also making health providers more publicly visible. Public discourses around the role of health providers through the pandemic, in particular nurses, have the potential to shape the nature of their professional role. This study makes use of critical discourse analysis (CDA) influenced by Foucault and social theory to explore discourse, power, and the role of the nurse. In particular, consideration is given to discourses present around the role of the nurse and how these have changed or been accentuated as a result of this global crisis. Findings suggest a discourse of sacrificial heroism which may influence the health, safety and psychological well-being of nursing professionals.

Summary for Lay Audience

Nurses have worked for decades to build a positive public image as health professionals. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of nurses is being contested in media conversations. Analyzing these conversations gives us an opportunity to understand how the nursing role is being changed. This will allow us to look at how the public, the government and nurses themselves perceive their role and how this has changed over the course of the pandemic. Ultimately, this study shares a concern that if nurses are being positioned as ‘sacrificial heroes’ that it may risk their health and wellbeing.

Included in

Nursing Commons