Background: In the early twentieth century, most women in Australia and New Zealand gave birth at home. As in colonial times, women living in the isolated New Zealand backblocks or Australian bush without access to a midwife, nurse or doctor, or women in towns who could not afford their service, gave birth with only a neighbouring woman, husband or older child to help. Most households had a domestic health guide as a source of health information and support in caring for themselves and others. This guide might therefore be the only assistance available to women and their lay attendants during childbirth. Aim: This research aimed to identify the information domestic health guides provided on childbirth, particularly if addressed to a person assisting the woman in the absence of a midwife, nurse or doctor, and to compare it with information midwives were expected to know. Methods: Using historical methodology, the researchers analysed the childbirth information in a range of domestic health guides available in Australia and New Zealand, 1900-1950. The information was also compared with midwifery textbooks and considered within the context of the increasing professionalisation of midwifery to discover how it reflected boundaries between lay and professional knowledge and practice. Findings: Some domestic health guides provided as detailed information as midwifery texts but without their scientific rationale that was a mark of professional knowledge and practice. Conclusion: By providing clear information, domestic health guides could have been a significant part of the culture of self-reliance and mutual aid, and of the cultures of health in both rural and urban environments in New Zealand and Australia in this time period.
Background: In the development and delivery of pre‑registration baccalaureate nursing programs, universities must address both the needs of industry and the registering authorities that regulate health professional practice. Balanced with this, providers of education at this level also wish to deliver an experience to students that they both value and enjoy. Objective: This paper describes the findings of a study examining these factors in the first year of four pre‑registration programs at a rural campus and outreach centre of one Australian university. Design: A descriptive, exploratory survey was employed in this research, which is drawn from a larger study into entry pathway, success and academic experience. Results: Results indicate that students found units such as fundamental nursing subjects and law most enjoyable and valuable. Units with a sociological foundation were considered less enjoyable and valuable. Overall, students recognised the value of the bioscience units while contrarily not expressing enjoyment of this aspect of their studies. Conclusions: These findings have implications for nurse educators in respect of the content and delivery of pre‑registration nursing programs. As first year students, the participants may have been focused on learning fundamental nursing tasks, lacking an understanding of the breadth of knowledge required for their professional role. Future research into aspects of nursing studies found to be most valuable may provide a different perspective if conducted in the period post graduation.