Dr Rosemary Bryant reflects on the evolution of nursing over the past 50 years

05 July 2022

Australia’s first Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Dr Rosemary Bryant, has shared her reflections on the evolution of nursing over the past 50 years in the March-May 2022 issue of the Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing (AJAN).

During the early days of her career, Dr Bryant describes both embattlement with the “day-to-day hierarchal nature of our professional environment” and, at the same time, joy as she went about delivering care to patients.

“We were at the bottom of a very big pile with very little power,” she recalls.

“This led to a perception of change only being brought about by conflict, a situation which to a degree still exists until this day. We had internalised notions of being seen as followers and not leaders in changing healthcare.”

According to Dr Bryant, significant international and system developments that had a profound effect on the development of the profession began with the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Declaration included the right to social security, health, education, racial equality, and equality of the sexes.

The latter, she writes, helped shape nursing, as it became swept up in the women’s movement and rise of feminism in the 60s and 70s.

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