All good patient care starts with a proper history. And a history of nursing starts with Sioban Nelson. Sioban is a historian, writer, scholar, thought leader, and nurse. Her impressive career started in a remote town in northern Australia and has taken her around the globe. She has led two schools of nursing, published 9 books, served as editor of the journal Nursing Inquiry and co-editor of the series Culture and Politics of Health Care Work by Cornell University Press. Sioban has served on national committees making recommendations on the Future of the Health Care System and on Scopes of Practice in the Health Professions. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nurses and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. She is generous and insightful and a wonderful storyteller.
I sit down with Sioban in her home office with the windows open on a warm spring day. She tells the story of her career and what inspired her interest in history and policy. She makes an eloquent case for the importance of nursing having an accurate sense of its own history and describes some of the trends that have shaped the profession, including how it came to be a route to professionalism for women. She shares insight into where we need to focus in order to bring about the kinds of changes necessary to improve and sustain our health care system into the future. She offers a preview of the book she’s writing and suggestions to help practicing nurses stay current with trends in health care. A conversation with Sioban refreshes. Her respect for the profession and for the knowledge and skill necessary to provide patients the care they need is both an inspiration and a challenge.
You can find a more complete description of Sioban’s career as well as links to her publications in her bio at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.
My favorites among Sioban’s published works:
- Notes on Nightingale: The Influence and Legacy of a Nursing Icon
- Say Little, Do Much: Nursing Nuns and Hospitals in the Nineteenth Century
- The Complexities of Care: Nursing Reconsidered