Oral History Project
I first became interested in the history of nursing when I began to think what it means to me to be a nurse. As I read about the history of nursing, I realized the importance of education in providing nurses with the knowledge, skills and ability to give quality care to our patients, elevating nursing to a profession and gaining the respect of other professions.
I read about the pioneers of nursing and their experiences, many told in their own words. I believe that events are clearer and more 'real', when related by people who were there and were part of the event. When several people relate events it is likely that there will be different perspectives resulting in a three dimensional picture. On a personal level, as I looked at photographs of nursing students from the 1880's to the present time I thought about each and wondered who they were, and what their story was.. Where were the stories of the these nurses seen only in photographs - many without their names? I believe that the stories of nurses are too important to lose and that it is important to the history of nursing and nursing education to record these stories.
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.
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 remains important to the professional status of nursing the focus of the project concentrate on history of nursing, nursing education and nursing as a profession.
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.