The nursing profession and nursing education program have been subjects of discussion in both Danish and international contexts, since nursing education originated. In this article we present a Foucault-inspired analysis on how »what a nurse should be able to do« was debated in Denmark in the years 1999-2016.

Fifty-six written materials consisting of laws, executive orders, directives, reports and articles were analyzed. The analysis showed how this debate influenced nurses’ base of knowledge and tasks in both nursing as a profession and nursing education. We identified two discourses: an occupational role discourse and a value discourse. The occupational role discourse acted as a dominant discourse to which the value discourse alternately acted as both a co discourse and a counter discourse. This pattern uncovered an adaption strategy where the nursing education program was adapted to fit a more market-oriented role of nursing.

Keywords: discourse, dispositive, education, Foucault, nursing, profession