The Nurse Apprentice, 1860–1977: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Nurse Apprentice, 1860–1977

1st Edition

By Ann Bradshaw


280 pages

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The British apprenticeship model of nurse training, developed under Florence Nightingale’s influence from 1860 at St Thomas’s Hospital, gained national and world-wide recognition. Its end was heralded with the publication of the last national syllabus from the General Nursing Council for England and Wales in 1977. This apprenticeship model, a crucial part of the history of British health care for over a century, is the subject of this book. Primary evidence, much of it original, is gained from Parliamentary debates and reports, syllabuses, long neglected nursing textbooks, major governmental and professional reports, and the voices of nurses themselves expressed through their professional journals. Primary sources are systematically re-examined and contextually interpreted in the light of new evidence. The study in particular interprets the contemporary attitudes and moral values underpinning the apprenticeship system, especially the place of vocation. The reasons for the ending of this system, arising in part from the cultural shifts of the 1960s, are explained in relation to this historical moral context. The reader sees how the self-understanding of the profession shifts, with much tension and disagreement, as mores change. The book fills a major gap in the history of nurse training, by giving a sustained account of the apprenticeship model of nursing in context, and charting changing values away from the historic vocational tradition. Its copious use of primary sources will make this a key text for nurses, historians and policy makers.


'Bradshaw's sources are impressive. In addition to archives, she draws extensively on nursing journals and nursing text books, demonstrating their value as a primary source for historical research.' Social History of Medicine Vol. 15, No 2 '…the richness of the source material and the percipient analysis of the same make this book an important contribution to the history of British nursing.' Ethics and Medicine

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The principles and practices of nursing in historical context: the Nightingale tradition of nursing, 1860-1896; Voices from the Nightingale nursing tradition - views of nurse leaders 1874-1982; Nurse registration: rationalising the spirit, 1888-1925; From registration to the new National Health Service: the age of reports 1923-1948; British nursing tradition and the North American influence 1948-1960; The turn of the tide, 1960-1972; Behind the scenes: battle for the soul of nursing, 1960-1978; The end of the nurse apprentice 1969-1979; Conclusion: lessons from history and the significance of the nurse apprentice; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

The History of Medicine in Context

An interest in medicine is one of the constants that re-occurs throughout history. From the earliest times, man has sought ways to combat the myriad of diseases and ailments that afflict the human body, resulting in a number of evolving and often competing philosophies and practices whose repercussions spread far beyond the strictly medical sphere.

For more than a decade The History of Medicine in Context series has provided a unique platform for the publication of research pertaining to the study of medicine from broad social, cultural, political, religious and intellectual perspectives. Offering cutting-edge scholarship on a range of medical subjects that cross chronological, geographical and disciplinary boundaries, the series consistently challenges received views about medical history and shows how medicine has had a much more pronounced effect on western society than is often acknowledged. As medical knowledge progresses, throwing up new challenges and moral dilemmas, The History of Medicine in Context series offers the opportunity to evaluate the shifting role and practice of medicine from the long perspective, not only providing a better understanding of the past, but often an intriguing perspective on the present.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General