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New roles and challenges within the healthcare workforce: a Heideggerian perspective

Anthea Wilson (Faculty of Health and Social Care, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 16 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore insights based on the phenomenology of Martin Heidegger, on the dynamic relationships between human experience and work roles.


Drawing on the findings of a hermeneutic phenomenological study of nurse mentors, the topics of new roles and role challenges are explored, along with a consideration of their relevance to wider issues of workforce redesign. Heidegger’s philosophy of Dasein, in particular his concepts of inauthentic and authentic self, provided an interpretational lens. This paper applies these philosophical concepts to challenges associated with a changing workforce.


Concepts elaborating human existence as proposed by Heidegger may offer analytic structures for understanding shifts in the lived experience of a changing workplace. In particular, the concepts could help managers to explore the implications of introducing novel work roles or extending roles. The understanding gained can also extend to situations where work practices may need to be challenged.


As work roles and skill mix undergo rapid shifts, this paper offers an original way of understanding the experience of work roles.



The author would like to thank all the mentors who participated in the original study and their employing organisations who supported recruitment. The author would particularly like to thank my PhD supervisors Professor Jan Draper, Professor Rosalind Searle and Dr Anita Rogers for their support throughout the study.


Wilson, A. (2015), "New roles and challenges within the healthcare workforce: a Heideggerian perspective", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 2-9.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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