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The Road to Recognition: Nurse Education in Gibraltar 1816 - 2006 - Book Review

Book review by Jennie Allison

This new, ambitious publication provides an engaging, highly readable account of the evolution of Gibraltar’s nurse education. It begins with its relatively crude origins with the Civil Hospital in 1816 and ends with the establishment of a fully professionalized training programme within the School of Nursing at St. Bernard’s Hospital.

Dr Margaret Williams offers us an elegantly phrased, diligently researched historical narrative without stinting on academic integrity.

The story is one of compromise and struggle: ‘Nursing has had to work hard and face opposition to get the recognition it deserves, and therefore the final choice for the book’s title, The Road to Recognition, encompasses that journey...’

Colonial domination, she argues, as well as heavily prescriptive Civil Service regulations, have done much to hinder the standing of nursing as a profession in previous decades. But the book is not an indictment so much as an attempt to mark the significant progress that has been made and to understand ‘how we got where we got now and what lessons can be learned from the journey’. The book documents the transformation of a badly paid, poorly resourced male dominated job into a clinically informed vocational endeavour which significantly lifted Gibraltar’s health care provision.

Dr. Margaret Williams, a former practitioner with long-standing research interests in nurse management and education, is well placed to offer such an overview. Her professional association with Gibraltar began in 1999 when she was appointed the GHA’s Education Development Officer, in which capacity she designed Gibraltar’s first pre-registration Diploma of Nursing programme. Much of her subsequent career was invested in raising nurse training standards. Recently she was appointed as a Research Associate at the University of Gibraltar.

The Road to Recognition is both an important and impressive piece of local historical excavation. It is a must-read for Gibraltar based students commencing nurse training, as well as for local practitioners and professionals working in health and social care. It also has a wider appeal to anyone seeking to explore a previously unlit corner of Gibraltar’s history.

I congratulate Margaret on successfully completing this book.

Jennie Allison was formally CEO ag and Clinical Standards Compliance Director of the Care Agency.

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