Professor and former Canadian MP to talk about Oxford’s nursing history

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Professor Lynn McDonald

Lynn McDonald, Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Guelph in Canada will give an open lecture at Oxford Brookes next week to talk about the beginnings of professional nursing in Oxford and the support from Florence Nightingale.

Taking place on Tuesday 19 April, the lecture is entitled Florence Nightingale and the stormy start to professional nursing in Oxford.

The lecture is one of a series of lectures being held this year as part of the University’s celebrations to mark 125 years of nursing education in Oxford. It will also feature a special exhibition of nursing history and memorabilia.

My lecture will get to the heart of the beginnings of nurse education in Oxford and the difficulties involved. I am looking forward to visiting Oxford Brookes and being part of their celebrations to mark 125 years of nurse education in the city.

Professor Lynn McDonald, Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of Guelph, Ontario

Oxford’s Radcliffe Infirmary was late in accepting professional (trained) nursing, not until 1891 was a trained matron appointed by the name of Flora Masson. She was the daughter of a professor and author, and an author herself.

Florence Nightingale coached her on her application and continued to mentor her, as she did countless others trained at her school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. However Masson’s years at the Radcliffe Infirmary were difficult. 

Lynn McDonald, Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of Guelph said: “It was a tough sell to get professional nursing into the Radcliffe Infirmary. The excellent matron was given a hard time, constantly called to account for her decisions. One of her duties was weighing the meat, or she had to act as “grocer's boy” as Florence Nightingale put it. Nightingale defended her often, and spent a lot of time in numerous hospitals rescuing and sympathising with other early, brave, matrons."

Professor McDonald will discuss how Nightingale got appointments for matrons and supported them when under attack by hospital authorities.

She continues: “My lecture will get to the heart of the beginnings of nurse education in Oxford and the difficulties involved. I am looking forward to visiting Oxford Brookes and being part of their celebrations to mark 125 years of nurse education in the city.”

Lynn McDonald is the director of the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2001-2012) a 16-volume edition of Nightingale’s books, articles, pamphlets and previously unpublished correspondence.

Made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015, she also served as a Canadian MP, authoring the ground-breaking Non-smokers Health Act 1988, the first national legislation in the world on smoke-free work and public places.

Professor McDonald is also an environmentalist, working particularly on climate change.

The lecture will take place at 5.00pm, followed by the exhibition, in the Jane Ashley Lecture Theatre, at the University’s Marston Road site. For more information and to book visit the Oxford Brookes Events website.

You can find out more about the 125 years of nursing education celebrations on the Department of Nursing’s website.