Nursing Studies

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The Chair of Nursing Studies was established in 1972 but teaching of the disciple began a quarter of a century earlier when Edinburgh became the first British university to establish a Nursing Training Unit.

Beginnings

Although nursing had been taught at university level in the United States since the late 19th century, academic nursing began much later in the United Kingdom and in Europe as a whole. Edinburgh University's Department of Nursing Studies has its roots in a Nurse Tutors' course established by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Scottish Branch, in 1946. This course was partly taught and examined by the RCN and partly by the university itself. Successful students were awarded a certificate by the university which, in turn, led to professional accreditation by the General Nursing Council for Scotland as a Registered Nurse Tutor (RNT) . In 1954, changes introduced to the RCN Nurse Tutors' course in England (which was extended from one year to two) necessitated urgent reform of the Scottish course. The course director, Margaret Lamb (1907-1992), had just returned from the United States where a Rockefeller Travelling Scholarship had permitted her to research degree courses in nursing. She was now determined to introduce similar courses here. At the same time a Canadian nurse Gladys Carter, who had lectured in nursing administration at Toronto University, took up a Research Fellowship in Edinburgh University's Department of Public Health and Social Medicine. Her research remit, supervised by Professor F. A. E. Crew, was to review the Nurse Tutors course. Carter's final report identified two areas where reform was imperative. Firstly, she argued that a two-year course on the English model offered better balance and structure. Secondly, she noted that students could be admitted to the Edinburgh course on the strength of a professional reference alone, and without possessing the advanced school-leaving certificate that was mandatory for other university courses. Professor Crew convened a meeting of RCN and University involved in teaching the course at which it was proposed 1) to raise the course academically to the status of the ordinary arts or sciences degrees offered by Edinburgh University, 2) to admit only students with appropriate academic qualifications, and 3) to extend the course from one year to two.

These proposals, aimed at tightening up academic control of nurse education, were approved by the RCN Council in London, the General Nursing Council for Scotland, and the Department of Health for Scotland. Funding was now sought from the Rockefeller Foundation for the foundation of a Nursing Training Unit. This was granted in 1956, following a visit from Mary Elizabeth Tennant, Assistant Director of the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Division. Meanwhile, Professor Crew had attempted to persuade the Faculty of Medicine to house the new course, but the proposal was rejected due to fears that nurses would be incapable of dealing with the Faculty's standard of teaching. Instead the course was to be accommodated within the Faculty of Arts as this would permit nurses to receive teaching from the Faculty's Department of Education. The university advertised the post of director of the new Nursing Training Unit, and in 1956, Elsie Stephenson (1916-1967) was appointed as the successful candidate (although Margaret Lamb had also applied).

Stephenson's remit to was develop nurse education and to establish a research base for the discipline. The unit was initially based in George Square but in 1957 moved to Chalmers Street and was renamed the Nursing Studies Unit, a title which more accurately defined its functions. At this stage, Stephenson was assisted by two lecturers: Margaret Lamb (part-time) and the newly appointed Kathleen J. W. Wilson. They initially taught courses leading to a Certificate/Diploma in Advanced Nursing Education (leading to post-course registration as a Nurse Tutor) or a Cetificate/Diploma in Nursing Administration. At the same time, the unit's research profile was firmly established by the award of the university's first Ph.D. in Nursing Studies in 1959: Audrey L. John's 'A Study of the Psychiatric Nurse and his/her Role in the Care of the Mentally Sick'. (In the same year, Anne McGhee was also awarded a Ph.D. for 'The Patient's Attitude to Nursing Care'.)

From October 1960 onwards, the Unit offered a five-year 'Integrated Degree Programme' where students combined a course of Nursing theory and practice with supplementary Arts or Science courses leading to graduation as either MA or BSc.

In 1962, the Unit opened an International School of Advanced Nursing Studies, financially supported by the World Health Organization, which offered programmes in Administration or Education, social medicine and nursing, and sciences applied to nursing. The first institution of its kind, this represented an important step in the promotion of higher education for nurses worldwide. It also helped to forge links between the Nursing Studies Unit and nursing organizations throughout the world and to establish vital professional and research networks.

In 1963, the University of Edinburgh created a Faculty of Social Sciences, which embraced a number of disciplines hitherto taught in the Faculty of Arts. These included Nursing Studies which now became an autonomous department with its own department head (Stephenson), thus achieving parity with longer established disciplines and considerably raising its academic profile. The Department now moved from Chamber Street to new premises in the Adam Ferguson Building in George Square.Shortly afterwards the Integrated Degree Programme, which had developed an alarming drop-out rate was replaced by a BSc Social Sciences (Nursing) Degree.

In 1967, Elsie Stephenson died at the tragically early age of 51. The Elsie Stephenson Fund was set up with the purpose of 'increasing opportunities for some of the best brains in Britain to develop their gifts to the full in Nursing and to encourage the Nursing profession to make appropriate use of all the tools and skills relevant to it'. This fund is still used today for regular commemorative lectures, studentships, staff development and research.

In 1968, Margaret Scott Wright (1923-2008) was appointed as Stephenson's successor. As head of department, she was particularly associated with two pioneering research initiatives. In 1970, the Nuffield Experimental Project (NEP) was initiated under her direction. This aimed to a) evaluate patient care in the hospital and community 2) assess the effect of university education on the quality of care delivered by undergraduate nurses 3) facilitate information exchange between academic and clinical nursing staff, and 4) implement nursing research in a controlled clinical setting. Wright was also the driving force behind the Nursing Research Unit, set up in 1971 to promote 'research mindedness' in the discipline and to provide an environment in which research policy in nursing could be more coherently formulated.

up to top of p. 33 don't forget to mention Chair

In the same year, the Edwina, Countess Mountbatten Trust was set up to support undergraduate students who wished to observe nursing practices in different parts of the world.

Key Dates

In 1954, a proposal was made for a Nurse Tutor Course to be located entirely within the University setting. Funding was sought from the Rockefeller Foundation for the foundation a Nurse Training Unit. This was granted in 1956, following a visit from Mary Elizabeth Tennant, Assistant Director of the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Division.

In 1956, Elsie Stephenson (1916-1967) was appointed as the first director of the newly founded unit, with a remit to develop nurse education and to establish a research base for the discipline. The unit was initially based in George Square but in 1957 moved to Chalmers Street and was renamed the Nursing Studies Unit.

In 1959, Audrey L. John achieved the first PhD in Nursing for her thesis 'A Study of the Psychiatric Nurse and his/her Role in the Care of the Mentally Sick'.

In a pioneering move, 1960 saw the first nursing registration programme integrated with a five-year Master of Arts. In the same year, a two-year programme in Advanced Nursing Education with Registered Nurse Teacher status was established.

In 1962, the first International School of Advanced Nursing Studies was founded at the Unit, with support from the World Health Organization, offering programmes to overseas students in nursing administration or education.

In 1963, the University of Edinburgh created a Faculty of Social Sciences, incorporating the renamed Department of Nursing Studies. In the same year lecturer Kathleen J. W. Wilson published the major nursing textbook Anatomy and Physiology (now in its 12th edition) in collaboration with Janet S. Ross. The first edition of the International Journal of Nursing Studies was also published with Elsie Stephenson as honorary editor.

In 1965, the Integrated Degree programme as replaced by the BSc Social Science (Nursing).

In 1967, Elsie Stephenson died at the tragically early age of 51. The Elsie Stephenson Fund was set up with the purpose of 'increasing opportunities for some of the best brains in Britain to develop their gifts to the full in Nursing and to encourage the Nursing profession to make appropriate use of all the tools and skills relevant to it'. This fund is still used today for regular commemorative lectures, studentships, staff development and research.

In 1968, Margaret Scott Wright (1923-2008) was appointed as Stephenson's successor. In the same year, the Edwina, Countess Mountbatten Trust was set up to support undergraduate students who wished to observe nursing practices in different parts of the world.

In 1971 Margaret Scott Wright was appointed to the first Chair of Nursing Studies in Europe. The Scottish Home and Health Department give financial support for the establishment of the first Nursing Research Unit in a European university, with Lisbeth Hockey (1918-2004) appointed as its first director.

1973, the Inaugural Elsie Stephenson Memorial Lecture was delivered by Professor Helen Carpenter of the University of Toronto.

In 1975, certificated courses in nurse teaching and administration were replaced by Masters degrees in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration.

In 1976, Margaret Scott Wright left to become Director of the School of Nursing at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. She was succeeded by Annie Altschul (1919-2001), who had lectured in the department since 1964.

In 1979, an innovative MSc in Health Education was established in collaboration with the Health Education Board for Scotland.

In 1980, lecturer Alison J. Tierney co-authored The Elements of Nursing: a Model of Nursing based on a Model of Living with Nancy Roper and Win Logan. This work was the first UK model of nursing to be published.

In 1983, both Lisbeth Hockey and Annie Altschul retired. Penny Prophit was appointed as the second Director of the Nursing Research Unit. In 1984, however, Prophit was appointed to the Chair of Nursing Studies, and Alison Tierney succeeded her as Director of the Nursing Research Unit.

In 1989, (Helen Sinclair becomes Head of Department,) a lectureship in Anatomy and Physiology was funded Dr Kathleen Wilson(; Dr Roger Watson was appointed).

In 1990, the undergraduate degree was offered as an Honours degree in recognition of its academic content.

In 1993,(Following the retiral of Helen Sinclair,Dr Kath Melia becomes Head of Department) links were forged with the University of Navarre, Pamplona in Spain, facilitating postgraduate students to undertake the MSc in Nursing and Health.

In 1994, the Nursing Research Unit was incorporated into the Department to embed research activity within Nursing Studies. The department also established a MSc in Cancer Nursing, partly funded by Macmillan Cancer Relief Fund, with Nora Jodrell appointed as Course Director. (Lecturer Tonks Fawcett co-authored Nursing Practice: Hospital and Home – The Adult (now in its 4th edition) with Margaret Alexander and Phyllis Runciman.

In 1996, Kath M. Melia, who had been Head of Department since 1993, was appointed the fourth Chair of Nursing Studies. (Her predecessor, Penny Prophit had resigned in 1992.)

In 1997, Alison Tierney received a Personal Chair in Nursing Research.

In 2001, the undergraduate programme was revised to increase community emphasis and renamed the Bachelor of Nursing with Honours. (Dr Rosemary Mander appointed Head of School of Nursing Studies.)

Following university restructuring in 2002, Nursing Studies moved as a subject area to the School of Health in Social Science in the College of Humanities and Social Science. Professor Kath Melia was appointed as the the first Head of School. (Tonks Fawcett was appointed Head of Nursing Studies.)

2005 - Dr Rosemary Mander receives a Personal Chair in Midwifery.

2007 - Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL), is incorporated into the nursing curriculum. Deborah Ritchie appointed Head of Nursing Studies.

2010 - Professor Pam Smith appointed Head of Nursing Studies. Online undergraduate and postgraduate programmes developed for the Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN), at the University of Malawi.

2012 - Tonks Fawcett receives a Personal Chair in Student Learning(Nurse Education).

2013 - Innovative Masters of Nursing in Clinical Research established.

2014 - Dr Sheila Rodgers appointed Head of Nursing Studies.

In 2015 Nursing Studies at Edinburgh was ranked top in the UK in The Guardian’s university league table for nursing and midwifery for the tenth year in succession.


Professors of Nursing Studies

Sources

  • Linda Pollock, Pam Smith, and Daniel Kelly, 'Leaps in the Dark: Celebrating 60 years of Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh' [[1], accessed 7 December 2017]
  • Rosemary I. Weir, A Leap in the Dark: The Origins and Development of the Department of Nursing Studies, the University of Edinburgh (Penzance: Jamieson Library, 1996)
  • Is there a way of citing the brochure?