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Nursing, nurses and their work in Rockhampton: 1930 - 1950

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posted on 2022-06-22, 03:53 authored by Wendy Madsen

This dissertation has used an historical approach to investigate nursing at the Rockhampton Hospital between 1930 and 1950. It has focussed on the work practices of those nurses who carried out the majority of the work, the trainee nurses. The work practices examined include those related to infection control, treatments and interventions, monitoring activities and ward management issues such as hierarchical structure and communication.

This dissertation has placed nursing history at the centrepoint of three related disciplinary fields - medical, labour and women's history. This has allowed some of the origins of the rituals, traditions and culture of nursing to be identified. In particular the image of nurses as the doctor's handmaiden has been examined. This dissertation has revealed that while a large proportion of nursing activities were regulated by doctors, nurses controlled a significant amount of their work. This dissertation has, therefore, supported and challenged the foundations of the handmaiden image.


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Central Queensland University

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Honorary Professor Amy Zelmer ; Doctor Denis Cryle

Thesis Type

  • Master's by Research Thesis

Thesis Format

  • By publication