Nursing in a new era: the profession and education of nurses in South Africa
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Nurses are often said to be the backbone of health services, but in South Africa their profession itself is in need of care. This monograph considers the profile, image and status of nursing today and the nature and role of nursing education. A major concern is that, although nursing still attracts many more students than there are places available, the gap between the large numbers who complete their training and the relatively small growth in the professional registers, indicates high attrition rates. The decline in the role of the public sector in the training of nurses is another worrying trend.
Through interviews and focus groups, the study explores issues that are contributing to the state of the nursing profession and airs the concerns of nursing students, academics and qualified nurses who are leaders in the field. These are concerns which managers and policy-makers in the health sector must address if the nursing profession is to regain the respect it once enjoyed, and if South Africa's public health sector is to address the serious challenges it faces.
This study forms part of a broader project on professions and professional education within the HSRC Research Programme on Education, Science and Skills Development (ESSD). The research focus of ESSD is wide, spanning three major social domains: the education system, the national system of innovation and the world of work. The programme is distinctive in that it is able to harness research work at the interface of these three key social domains, to produce comprehensive, integrated and holistic analyses of the pathways of learners through schooling, further and higher education into the labour market and the national system of innovation.