Journal of Professional Nursing

Recollecting and ‘thinking’ the story of New Zealand’s postgraduate nursing scholarship development

Liz Smythe, RN, RM, PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Health Care Practice, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland

Reference:  Smythe, L. (2008). Recollecting and ‘thinking’ the story of New Zealands’s postgraduate nursing scholarship development. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 24(3), 27-40. 


Nursing in New Zealand has undergone a rapid rise of postgraduate scholarly development over the past four decades. Early nurse scholars had no choice but to study university papers outside the discipline of nursing. Their reflections show how much their thinking was sparked by such experiences. On the other hand, the excitement of nursing finding its own body of knowledge and moving into research is also recalled. Hermeneutic analysis of these two aspects encourages ‘thinking’ of how postgraduate education gets shaped. The discussion draws on Heidegger’s notion that it is the void of the jug that holds the fluid – what goes into the jug itself (postgraduate learning) is often discretionary.  

Scholarship, postgraduate education, Heidegger

Thinking-back enables insights of the past to guide understanding of future possibilities. The ‘thinking’ focus of this paper is post-graduate education in nursing. The perspective is grounded in the lived experience of the author, draws on the experiences of other early New Zealand nurse scholars, and offers an interpretation from which others can continue ‘thinking’. I was a nurse (and later a midwife) in an era when it was considered highly unusual for nurses to move on to postgraduate study. When I stepped into those circles I met the pioneers, nurses who had studied outside of the discipline of nursing and had convinced others that nursing itself had a place within the university. It was an era of excitement, indeed exhilaration, as together we explored the possibilities of postgraduate nursing education. An opportunity for a group of nurse scholars from the past four decades of postgraduate nursing education to meet together and re-collect their memories birthed this paper. While the manner of collecting data fits within the expectations of research, this paper is written as a philosophical hermeneutic analysis to provoke thinking. It draws on insights from Heidegger [1889-1976] to discern the ways in which the nature of education took shape. The aim is not to present an historical overview but rather to open to question current and future ‘ways’.  …cont.

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