The Changing Image of Australian Nursing

Topics: Nursing / Pages: 16 (3956 words) / Published: May 7th, 2011
The Changing Image of Australian Nursing

Jacqueline Bloomfield
RN, CM, Dip App.Sci (Nur), BN, Grad Cert Onc Nur, Grad Dip Midwifery, MN, MCN (NSW).

The way in which the public perceives nursing significantly influences nurse�s role performance, job satisfaction and occupational expectations. The public image of Australian nursing has been subject to a plethora of influencing factors since health-care services were first established in this country over two centuries ago, Since its colonial origins, when considered an occupation suitable only for the socially outcast, nursing has evolved through decades of changes and reform. From a position of significant oppression and medical subservience, generations of Australian nurses have fought for public recognition in terms of identity, respect and role acknowledgement. The paper briefly explores the public image of Australian nursing from a historical perspective and discuss some of the factors that have influenced the way in which the public perceives the roles and responsibilities of the nurse.


There is little doubt that nursing in Australia has undergone significant changes since its early colonial origins over two years ago when caring for the sick was widely considered to be a task suitable only of those of criminal and social disrepute (Schultz, 1991) Since these early beginnings, Australian nursing has progressed gradually through what can be considered a social, educational, technological, political and professional revolution. Modern nursing represents this progression, and as a result, the role of the contemporary nurse has expanded considerably from what was once traditionally the fulfillment of predominantly domestic duties performed at the instruction of the doctor.

While it is relatively simple to evaluate the progression of Australian nursing in terms of emerging roles and responsibilities, it is not so easy to define if and how the public image of nursing has

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