Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Governing Nursing: Curriculum as a Rhetorical Vehicle Using South Australian Nursing Schools from the 1950s Onwards as an Illustrative Case

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Governing Nursing: Curriculum as a Rhetorical Vehicle Using South Australian Nursing Schools from the 1950s Onwards as an Illustrative Case

Article excerpt

BACKGROUND

The term 'curriculum' appeared in the 1950s Australian nursing, as it was that during this period that nursing started to describe itself as a profession (Peterson 1955). The appearance of 'curriculum' in texts increased just when nursing was asserting its professional status supported by a context of rapid professionalization in many health care and other social care groups. All of this occurred even though, in Australia, the nursing training system remained an apprenticeship system in hospitals. In this system, novice nurses learned nursing skills from seniors in practice, with little reasoning, and learning was predominantly based on a medical model of health care (Peterson 1955). The shift to tertiary education occurred as a part of the transformation that has brought the recognition of nursing as a discipline and a profession. This paper presents material from a larger study of changes in nurse education through an exploration of the genealogy of teaching nurses clinical judgement. The focus for discussion is how the location of, and responsibilities for, nurse educational curricula changed, that is where and who undertook its governance changed even as nursing itself was transformed by social changes.

Through this process, nursing education is now recognised as a professional education and nursing students are regarded as students expected to be 'reflective practitioners' as evidenced in Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council's competency standards (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council 2006). We trace how who defined the role of nurses has changed; from a Nurses Board with the majority of its members were medical practitioners and education hospital-based to regulation of nursing education from a Nurses Board 'at a distance', with professional structure and function that is the responsibility of nurses through a Nurses Act representing and governing nurses. It is our intention in this article to show how this happened in one location - highly influenced by other locations and situations - so as to investigate how nurses as educators have taken control of their curriculum and its purposes.

DATA SOURCES AND ANALYTICAL METHODS

In this section we outline data sources, how we approached the data and the form of discourse analysis and governmental analysis we use to accomplish our understandings of what is operating in the discourses around curricula and its governance of nurse education. We outline, as well, the analytical framework informing this aspect of the larger study. For the purposes of this paper, the selection of primary data was as follows (see Table 1 for entire archive and Table 2 for the resources used in this study):

* Curricula from educational institutions in South Australia:

- Royal Adelaide Hospital Nursing School;

- Flinders University and its descendent schools, Sturt College of Advanced Education, South Australian College of Advanced Education (with three Schools of Nursing at Sturt, Underdale and Salisbury Campuses);

* Curricula from the 1950s to the present were collected. We were unable to locate some of the historical curriculum from Royal Adelaide Hospital, especially during the 1950s. Therefore, missing information was filled by collecting items from the government archives, such as reports and letters including the statements about educational trends and curriculum development;

* Data from government agencies such as the Nurses Board of South Australia (NBSA) was included as it was an influential in nurse training and education. The State Records (South Australia) also had some archives relating to nursing curriculum development in the South Australian situation.

Texts such as historical curricula, government documentation concerning the nursing training and education during this period were also data categorised as primary and secondary data as follows. The primary resources were collected from the educational institutions relating to curriculum development, committee minutes and the governmental documents from the Nurses Boards and State Record. …

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