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Researching AIDS care at Bailey Boushay House has provided a particularly rich resource for the analysis of nursing identity for several reasons. First, AIDS continues to be incurable, and because it is a syndrome rather than simply a single disease it has proven quite challenging to recognize and treat effectively at times. Often, nursing care was the one thing that could be offered and this privileged the nurse's contribution in ways that rarely occurred otherwise. Also in the early to mid 1990s, the learning curve concerning AIDS was quite dramatic, and in a facility dedicated to providing AIDS care, nurses working with people with AIDS around the clock, and eventually for extended periods of time, had the opportunity to learn about how opportunistic infections manifested and which treatments best ameliorated their negative effects.
During my fieldwork, I conducted several kinds of interviews: informal interviews, unstructured interviews, and semistructured interviews.
My research demonstrates that nursing identity at Bailey Boushay House comes into being through the processes of discipline, self-governance, and discourse. These forces act on the identity positionalities of gender, sexuality, class, race, and ethnicity already in place when each nurse comes to work at the facility. Each RN, an assemblage of all of the influences that have contributed to her or his personal identity, as well as one's own responses to those influences, comes to have their nursing identity re-configured through personal experiences at Bailey Boushay.