Brandon author documents 100 years of psychiatric nursing

This year, when mental and emotional distress is taking its toll, the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Foundation, Inc. (RPNF) celebrates the 100-year anniversary of psychiatric nursing in Manitoba and Canada. Brandon University has played a key role in PN education and a Brandon woman, a psychiatric nursing educator at BU and long-time passionate scholar of psychiatric nursing education and history has written about her profession.

The history of this centennial is documented in Politics, Personalities, and Persistence - One Hundred Years of Psychiatric Nursing Education in Manitoba a book by Beverley Clare Williams Hicks, PN (ret), Phd, of Brandon. The book provides a comprehensive account of the profession’s transition from the asylums of Manitoba, where for seventy years psychiatric nurses cared for the mentally ill when few others were interested in them, to the halls of academia in Brandon University in 1986, the first university in Canada to grant a baccalaureate degree to psychiatric nurses.

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The book draws on documentary records from Manitoba archives, as well as the personal recollections and colourful reminiscences of key players. It explores the legal recognition of psychiatric nursing, challenges to its place in the nursing community, and the role of government policies in the development of the profession. Part of the proceeds from the book will support the RPNF.

Hicks’ story should be read with interest by anyone in post secondary fields, professionals, and government officials. What makes the story more compelling is the long and twisted tale of how Brandon University became the first university in the country to offer a Bachelor’s degree in psychiatric nursing. It then became the first in Canada to offer a Master’s degree in the same field.

Dr. David Docherty, President and Vice-Chancellor, Brandon University

The politics that were involved in psychiatric nursing education were certainly convoluted, often with no concern about the psychiatric nurses themselves and certainly not about the recipients of services. I strongly recommend it for anyone who is interested in relationships between governments and universities and professional groups. Annette Thorimbert Osted, PN(ret),LL.D(Hons)

The book is available from Friesen Press.

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