Law Text Culture

Article Title

Nursing a grievance


P. Blazey-Ayoub


Nurses, both in Australia and overseas, have long felt they are denied appropriate professional recognition for their role in the operation of the health system in which they work. In her book, Nursing and the Injustices of the Law, Megan-Jane Johnstone argues that nurses are not recognised as an autonomous profession, and at the same time are exploited by patriarchal medical profession whose views are legitimated and reenforced by law. She argues that even with reforms that are said to expand the legal practice of nursing, the autonomous and professional status of the nurse has not improved. She suggests that the medical and legal profession, two male dominated professions, act in a way that maintains the subordinate position of the nurse. To combat this situation, Ms. Johnstone urges that the nursing profession is in need of the development of a nursing jurisprudence whereby nurses can attain legal authority that matches their responsibilities as health care professionals. The book rightly argues that historically the law, in conjunction with the legal profession, has trivialised the role of the nurse, particularly the tendency of judges, lawyers and doctors to disregard the role of the nurse. The book examines feminist jurisprudential research to draw support for the view that the law, in general, is oppressive and inequitable in its treatment of women.