A context analysis of student training records dating from the 1950/1960s: What were desirable and undesirable student nurse characteristics?

Annette M Jinks, Kathleen Richardson, Chris Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The aim of this study is to identify what were desirable and undesirable student nurse characteristics in the 1950/1960s and relate them to those who had successfully completed the programme and gained State Registration and those who had not. A further aim was to undertake comparisons with modern day values of what are viewed as desirable traits in nurses. Background: In the 1950/1960s student nurses were hospital employees. Nurse training was based in hospital training schools and coordinated by sister tutors. Learning about nursing largely took place in clinical settings where there was limited supervision of student nurses by qualified nurses. Design: Content analysis approaches were used whereby positive and negative comments related to successful and unsuccessful completers were identified. Methods: Data were extracted from individual training records relating to 641 student nurses. The records dated from 1955 to 1968. Clinical and training school reports were summarized by senior hospital figures such as the hospital matron. These reports were the focus of the analysis. Findings: Desirable student nurse traits identified in the analysis were being a ‘nice person’, who is kind, compassionate and attentive to patients, conscientious, bright and intelligent. Other values such as being hard-working, reliable and punctual reflect that the students studied were primarily employees. Amenable to discipline and unquestioningly obeying a doctor's order also were part of the conventions of the time. Most negative comments related to the unsuccessful completers. Conclusions: New insights into what was viewed as desirable and undesirable nursing characteristics in the 1950/1960s are identified. These insights have national and international relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-531
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2014


  • 1950s and 1960s
  • Content analysis
  • Desirable nursing traits
  • Student nurse training records


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