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Nostalgic constructions of nurse education in British national newspapers




To explore nostalgic constructions of nurse education in British National newspapers.


British newspaper discourse relating to the increased academic level of nurse education in the UK is negative, evoking comparisons between negative constructions of nurse education in the present and an idealized nostalgic view of the past.


Discussion paper.

Data Sources

This study used a critical discourse analysis approach to analyse 11 British Newspaper articles, which exemplify nostalgic constructions of nurse education. This was a purposive sample from a database search (LexisNexis) of British national newspaper articles relating to the increasing academic level of nurse education in the period from 1999–2012.

Implications for Nursing

A dominant nostalgic discourse constructs a ‘golden era’ of nurse education, which idealizes the past, making the present flawed in comparison. Nostalgic constructions create group identities creating contrasting ‘caring’ nurses educated in the idealized past with those educated now, who are perceived as too educated to care. An inherent characteristic of the nostalgic discourse is the notion that the solution to current problems with nurse education is a return to an idealized version of the past. Another less common newspaper discourse views nostalgia as a problematic construct.


Nostalgic discourse with a focus on the past potentially acts as a barrier to creating an effective nurse education system for the 21st Century. This focus on an idealized past also has potential consequences in terms of public opinion and legitimization of government policy, which might otherwise be viewed as retrograde.