Nursing Memoirs and Poetry

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Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain Chronicles of Youth

I am currently searching for nurses’ memoirs and poems to read. These are areas of nursing that are not common place in nursing journals or the media. I feel they were probably more abundant in the early 1900s to the 1960s.

I am currently reading Vera Brittain’s Chronicles of Youth, about her life  pre-war, living with her family in Buxton, attending parties, lectures at community halls and the promise of education at Oxford. She describes the thoughts and feelings of others on her plans for a University education as mixed with some of her society friends believing higher education is not a route she should be taking. Her writings present her as a determined young woman with aspirations beyond the current life she describes.

I wonder if this is not so different from our current times in nursing. Today it is still a topic for debate whether nursing should be a  graduate profession. Even when I applied to complete the degree after the diploma programme of nurse training I was discouraged by my nursing seniors in the 1990s. It was viewed that a nurse does not need a degree education to care. That the current nurse training is sufficient to educate nurses in the art and science of nursing and the daily practical skills for registration. But it is the notion of the enquiring mind to explore, read, debate and examine what we do, how we do it and look at the evidence. If we no longer enquire about our profession, patient care or the politics of the health service how would we be a part of medical science and evolving healthcare ?

I respect that the academic route is not for everyone and by no means would I demand that nurse training should be completely by graduate pathway only. But there should be options, an exit point for registration and an extension point to an honors degree. In nursing I believe that skill mix is important and should be encouraged and embraced.

(Image from Google images)

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