From barnyards to bedsides to books and beyond: the evolution and professionalization of registered psychiatric nursing in Manitoba 1955-1980

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Hicks, Beverley
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ABSTRACT FROM BARNYARDS TO BEDSIDES TO BOOKS AND BEYOND: THE EVOLUTION AND PROFESSIONALIZATION OF REGISTERED PSYCHIATRIC NURSING IN MANITOBA, 1955-1980 In the 1950s, psychiatric nursing in Canada was developing into two models. East of Manitoba, psychiatric nursing was a part of general nursing. To the west of Manitoba, it was evolving into a distinct profession. Manitoba, during the 1950s, did not fit either the eastern or western model. But in 1960, it achieved the same distinct professional status, through legislation, as its neighbours to the west. This study is an examination of the factors that swayed Manitoba to adopt the western psychiatric nursing model and achieve the legislation which governed its first twenty years. The factors are: male collegiality with the leaders of the other three western psychiatric nurses associations, the support of the western based Canadian Council of Psychiatric Nurses, the encouragement of medical superintendents of the provincial mental hospitals in the formation of an alternative workforce, and the lack of interest by general nurses in working in the provincial mental institutions. The legislation achieved in 1960 gave some authority to the Psychiatric Nurses Association of Manitoba to govern its own affairs, but it was not entirely effective in bestowing full professional status on psychiatric nurses. This was especially true of the control over education which was placed in the hands of a committee, dominated by medical superintendents. This study also examines the evolution of the profession during its first twenty years as it worked to gain control over education, develop a professional ideology, and establish a place for itself in the Manitoba mental health system. This study concludes in 1980 with the passage of full professional legislation. A genealogical analysis was used to examine data which came from archives, oral interviews, and secondary sources. The findings suggest that registered psychiatric nursing in Manitoba is a contingent and political construction, but that it can continue to evolve and grow in unique ways through an ongoing examination of its roots, icons, practices, and philosophy.
registered psychiatric nursing, Manitoba