Pediatric home care nurses spend their days working in another family’s home, taking constant care of a child who is not their own. Like the biological mother of the household, the nurse is a caretaker. Because of this, the nurse and mother in the pediatric home care setting share a similar maternal identity regarding the care of the child. Thus, the question arises as to how pediatric home care nurses strategically communicate with the biological mothers of their patients to negotiate this maternal identity. To carry out this study, I conducted nine ethnographic interviews with full-time, female home care nurses of pediatric patients. Questions covered such areas as the nurses’ relationships with their patients, the ways in which the nurses try to resolve issues within the household, the ways in which the nurses balance the task of decision-making with the mothers, and any tensions that arise in the relationship between mother and nurse. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using concepts from scholarly literature on the social constructs of motherhood and health care communication. It was concluded that the pediatric home care nurse recognizes herself as both a mother figure and a medical professional in her work environment, and must balance these two roles while incorporating the patient’s biological motherhood in the patient’s caretaking to assure her of her maternal identity.


Bostdorff, Denise

Second Advisor

Johnson, Michelle


Communication Studies


identity negotiation, motherhood, ethnographic interviews, pediatric home care nursing, health care communication

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2017 Mary Gagliardi