The Road to Recognition for Gibraltar Nurses

in Book Review

Dr. Margaret Williams Book Launch

At the official launch of her book ‘The Road to Recognition: Nurse Education in Gibraltar 1816-2006’ at the Garrison Library in October hosted by the Hon. Dr. John Cortes MP, former Gibraltar Health Authority Nurse Tutor Dr. Margaret Williams told Insight that the book took twelve years to compile. “I had to go to England for cancer treatment and didn’t take any material with me,” she says. “I also had a couple of strokes so it took quite a long time to research. I obtained some of the information in the Garrison Library as well as in the archives and I was also fortunate to have been given or loaned documentation by some ex-Matrons.”

Dr. Williams has a long history of involvement in nursing, nurse education, nurse management research, curriculum design and validation processes. She was appointed to the GHA in March 1999 as Education Development Officer to work in conjunction with Sheffield and North Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery to design a pre-registration nurse training programme that could be validated at the level of Diploma of Nursing and she has also recently been appointed as a Research Associate at the University of Gibraltar.

The book tracks the history of nurse education in Gibraltar from 1816 when St. Bernard’s Hospital was built. “It has taken over 205 years to actually gain the recognition for nurse training in Gibraltar,” Dr. Williams explains.

“I was employed as an Education Development Officer to write a programme that could be validated at Diploma level with a British university because up until then there hadn’t been any recognition of Gibraltar training.”

“In 2005 I was asked to answer a couple of questions that had been sent from Britain in relation to nurse training and when I started looking back through the history I was absolutely fascinated,” she says, going on to state that although the book is mainly about nurse education it is intertwined along with social history and education and it covers a lot of different aspects of life in Gibraltar.

According to Dr. Williams, one of the major changes in nurse training today is that nurses have become research based. “That came with the introduction of the Diploma in nursing in 2000,” she says. “I was then moved across to post-registration training because unless you have educated nurses in the wards, supporting learner nurses is no good – so an awful lot of development went on with the nurses already in employment.”

Asked if Gibraltar now has the same standard of nurse training as in the UK, Dr. Williams stated that it is getting that way. “When we gained accreditation from the UK we were actually linked with Sheffield University but they were absorbed into the Northern Region and they lost their validating power,” she says.  Gibraltar then sent out invitations for other universities to accredit nurse training so the registered nurses who come out of training now are at degree level.

The book, available at the Gibraltar Heritage Trust and at the Garrison Library, has been meticulously researched by Dr. Margaret Williams and would make a great Christmas present for those commencing their nurse training, for nurses and practitioners in the medical profession or, as Dr. Williams says, for ordinary people from Gibraltar that are interested in its social history.

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