Nurses' occupational health as a driver for curriculum change emphasising health promotion: an historical research study

Pamela Wood

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    Background: Reasons stated for curriculum change in nursing education are usually shifts in knowledge, care delivery, roles, regulatory standards and population health needs. In New Zealand in the 1930s, a curriculum change was driven instead by the need to protect and promote nurses health. Tuberculosis was an international occupational health risk among nurses. Mary Lambie, New Zealand s chief nurse, considered nursing a hazardous profession . One remedy she instituted was curriculum change in the national nurse training programme to emphasise health promotion among nurses. Global nursing issues today also impact on nurses health. Curriculum changes again address this by promoting self-care and resilience. Objective: To examine how international and national concern for nurses occupational health drove a curriculum change in New Zealand nurse training in the 1930s. Design: Historical Research. Methods: International occupational health reports (1930s), Lambie s annual reports (1932-1950), and questions and examiners comments in a new state examination (1940s-1950s), were analysed to identify the reasons for and direction of the curriculum change. Findings were interpreted within international and national concerns and measures related to occupational health in nursing. Results: Lambie used the political leverage of international and national worry over tuberculosis as a nursing occupational health risk to protect nurses health more generally. In 1933 she revised the first year of the three-year national nursing curriculum to emphasise personal hygiene and bacteriology related to cross-infection, and in 1938 introduced a State Preliminary Examination at the end of the first year of training to test this knowledge. Analysis of examinations, 1940s-1950s, confirms that the curriculum change driver was a concern to make nursing a less hazardous profession . Conclusion: Nurse educators today should be aware of the variety of factors that can lead to curriculum change in nursing. In addition, concern for nurses health today demonstrates the continuing need for health promotion in nursing curricula.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)709 - 713
    Number of pages5
    JournalNurse Education Today
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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