Journal of Professional Nursing

(Re)Positioning Nursing: Watch This Space  

Elaine Papps, RGON, PhD, FCNA (NZ) Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing, Otago Polytechnic

Reference:  Papps, E. (2001). (Re)Positioning Nursing: Watch this space. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, (17)2, 4-12.


This paper traces the emergence of categories of nurse over the last hundred years from the time that the Nurses Registration Act became law in 1901. Insights from the work of Michel Foucault are utilised to show how nurses and nursing have been historically shaped and positioned. It is suggested that the recent endorsement by the Nursing Council of New Zealand of the concept and title of Nurse Practitioner represents an opportunity for nurses to imagine what might be.  

Nurse practitioner, nursing history, nursing regulation, Foucault   

It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end (Le Guin, 1977, p. 150). Over the last century nurses and nursing in New Zealand have travelled from a space in which “every woman was a nurse” (Rodgers, 1985, p.19) to one in which entry to practice requires an undergraduate degree. As well, many nurses have completed postgraduate degrees. The journey has been a significant one, marked by transformations, accomplishments, struggles, tensions and lost opportunities. Continued 

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