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Keywords:

  • Australia;
  • heritage;
  • history;
  • leadership;
  • mental health nursing

ABSTRACT

Understanding mental health nursing's past is an important way to preserve our cultural heritage. By exploring and then disseminating the insights gained through examination of the past, students and practicing mental health nurses may become more aware of the social and intellectual origins of the profession. They may also have their professional connections and commitment to mental health nursing clarified and reconfirmed. This paper presents the results of a survey conducted in Queensland in 2009. Members of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses were invited to identify mental health nurses who they perceived had made a noteworthy contribution to the profession. Twenty mental health nurses were identified from the 38 surveys received. The reasons underlying the nominations revealed two main themes: achievements and qualities. Achievements included the subthemes: practice pioneer; career longevity; and far reach of influence. Qualities included: inspirational role model; and passion, dedication and/or commitment. The study provides a beginning conversation on the preservation of heritage and recommends deeper exploration of the history of mental health nursing within Australia, and specifically Queensland.