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The struggle for legitimacy: nursing in Australia

At the recent ACN National Nursing Forum Georgina Willetts gave the key note speech on nursing's past, present and future.

Willetts joined the profession aged 17 because she "didn’t want to go to university," and had no aspirations of leadership or pursuing a career in academia.

Now the associate professor and head of the nursing discipline at Swinburne university, she spoke to the audience about the importance of nurse leadership and the never-ending battle for nurses to have their voices heard.

Willetts says the common thread that weaves through the past, present and future of nursing is the dearth of understanding that surrounds the profession and the lack of nurse voices being heard. The stereotypes that doggedly follow nurses “frequently stigmatise nursing practice".

Willetts argues that nursing is often associated with the body and “dirty” or “menial” work, and as nurses debrief among themselves, the myths that surround the job are often left to grow.

To take nursing into the future successfully, nurses need to be heard, be involved in research, go into politics and break down these stereotypes, she says.

Willetts spoke with Nursing Review about the profession’s fight for legitimacy and her links to Florence Nightingale and Sir Henry Parkes.

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