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Title: The nurse in Edinburgh, c. 1760-1860 : the impact of commerce and professionalisation
Author: Mortimer, Barbara E.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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This study investigates the lives, work and organisation of independent nurses who worked in mid nineteenth century Edinburgh. Little was known of women in this occupation as no systematic study of women engaged in nursing prior to the introduction of formal nurse training has yet been attempted. The research focus lies around 1851 and 1861, the period that preceded the introduction of modern nurse training to the city in 1872. Important earlier developments are traced from the mid-eighteenth century. The study of these nursing careers is set in the context of the history of women’s work, Scottish history, the history of nursing and the history of Scottish medical professionalisation. The dominant influence that impacted on the careers of elite independent nurses was the power of commerce in a market for luxury services in the city. A second significant factor was the professionalising activities of medical men. These were most visible in the contracting opportunities for independent midwives and the expanding opportunities for independent nurses. Thirdly, the most lucrative workplace for the independent nurses was in the homes of the middle and upper classes of the city. In this setting women of superior status closely supervised nurses and they were required to conform to the moral standards of the middle class home. These three influences were applied in an environment of presbyterian probity where gendered roles were an accepted norm, they affected the selected groups of nurses with varying intensity but all three forces are traced in each setting. The study is focused in Edinburgh, a unique Scottish city throughout this period. The medical school and the doctors associated with it were of national and international stature. Patients were attracted from Britain and overseas to consult such eminent men as James Syme and James Young Simpson. Medical care could be described as a local industry. The city was unique in that so much medical activity was focused there. However the opportunities available to nurses in Edinburgh were repeated in other cities where rich patients and their families sought out reputable doctors and both parties needed the assistance of a nurse to complete the pattern of care.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available