Oral History Project
In Our Past, Lies Our Future
Historians often record the lives of nurses considered to have made a ‘noteworthy’ contribution to nursing or those who have witnessed or been part of an important event. I believe that it’s important to look at the experiences of all nurses as each, in their own way have contributed to the nursing profession.
The American Nurses Association states on their website “The world of professional nursing practice and health policy is ever evolving to meet the new dynamics of care needs in every setting”. Achieving professional status for nurses has been a long and, at times, rocky process.
Reviewing the history of nursing in America as told in literature and the personal histories of nurses, aids in understanding how nurses have conquered obstacles along the way to achieving full partnership in decision making in healthcare.
While it is not possible to obtain oral histories from some of the early pioneers in nursing, we are fortunate to have their written memoirs, biographies and in some cases journal articles or books that they have written. Many nurses did not leave a written record of their experiences. And in today's fast paced world with technology that allows for instant communication, e-mails and text messaging, read and then deleted, many stories are lost.
Their stories have been shared on this website .
Oral History Project
The original purpose of the project was:
To examine the history of nursing education through the personal perspectives
of students and, where possible, nursing faculty:
The initial goals were:
To preserve the real life experiences of nurses by recording their stories, in their own words. and
To review stories and identify themes, educational philosophy;and compare past, current and future
As I explored the history of nursing and nursing education I found that the history of education had bloomed into the history of nursing in America. While education of nursing professionals is important, the focus of the project has been enlarged as many of the nurses interviewed continued with a discussion about their careers after graduation. Clearly the wide variety of careers that are possible after graduation is important. One nurse interviewed commented: “I don’t know of any other career on the planet that you get so many different rewarding experiences from one particular degree.” Many of those nurses interviewed have been pioneers as they began to specialize in the many opportunities nursing provides. Thus the interview seeks to explore their career with each participant.
Many of the nurses interviewed wanted to talk about their careers after graduation and the wide variety of careers that are possible after graduation. One nurse interviewed commented: “I don’t know of any other career on the planet that you get so many different rewarding experiences from one particular degree.” Many of those nurses interviewed have been ‘pioneers as they began to specialize in the many opportunities nursing provides. Thus the interview seeks to explore their career with each participant.
With this realization, the project goals have been revised.
Current (2019) Project Goals
To review stories and identify the factors that have encouraged or discouraged students to go on to further their education.
To identify the role of education in achieving professional status
To identify career paths made possible through nursing and nursing education.