The significance of gender to Australian psychiatric nursing

Warelow, Philip John (2003) The significance of gender to Australian psychiatric nursing. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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This research has critically examined, using a historical method and discourse analysis, some of the many issues related to gender in Australian psychiatric nursing. More specifically, it has explored how gender and gender differences amongst Australian psychiatric nurses evolved, their significance, how they are maintained, and some of their continuing influences and effects in respect to the nature and role of the psychiatric nursing profession. A major focus of the research has been the explication of the published discourse since 1788 in the context of Australia's social and cultural development, including more recent changes in professional and health service organisations and education. These have also been interpreted within the context of international developments, and have contained lines of inquiry relating to gender, the sexual division of labour, role stereotypes, patriarchy, feminism and the history of psychiatry. Using a discourse analysis and historical criticism, the principal aim of the research is a recovery of the past, which seeks to understand more clearly the meaning of associated discourses and texts so they can be used as a knowledge base and a resource. This will enable the current nursing workforce to use these understandings productively and by adding meaning, to benefit from the wisdom of the past. Recommendations of this thesis include the need for health services and human resources to be more pro-active in adopting gender-neutral recruitment strategies and in constructing nursing as a job for men, and in embracing a less gendered conception of nursing. It is suggested that recruitment should be targeting people who are suited to the work, emphasising the role function and taking a more egalitarian approach. Whilst gender is important, it is argued that if we continue to assume that only females can care we are taking a shortsighted view, and that many males provide high quality care. The thesis recommends that the comprehensive nurse education programmes offered by universities and other educational institutions need to increase the psychiatric nursing components of their undergraduate degrees. This extended curriculum should include the topic of gender, as well as the history of psychiatric nursing. The range of skills that particular genders bring to nursing and the crossover of gender markers might be a useful starting point for this. This research argues that the comprehensive nurse education programmes in Australia do not adequately prepare nurses to work in mental health settings, and that separate training programmes for nurses working in mental health are to be preferred. Psychiatric nursing is conceived as a specialty, which needs to be treated as such.

Item ID: 1257
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: psychiatric nursing, gender, Australia, history, sex discrimination, male nurses, nurse education, mental health profession
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2006
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1110 Nursing > 111005 Mental Health Nursing @ 0%
Downloads: Total: 931
Last 12 Months: 20
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