Nursing in Malta (1964-1996): A Narrative of Delayed Professionalisation

  • Catherine Sharples

Student thesis: Phd


This study aimed at describing how the nursing profession in Malta changed between 1964 and 1996 emerging as a profession a result of circumstances and changes within and without. Change appears to have been imposed from outside the profession but Maltese nurses did not react to changes whether it was to their benefit or not. Meanwhile, the cumulative effect of various factors such as demographical changes, educational status and political decisions initiated the process of professionalisation of nursing in Malta.Source materials included archival sources and oral history interviews with twenty four interviewees consisting of nurses and other persons who were influential during the time, including politicians. These were analysed in order to produce a narrative of professionalisation of nursing in Malta. This is the first indepth study on the subject. The chosen period under study begins in 1964, the year Malta gained independence and ends in 1996, the year when the post of Nursing Director was established, thus allowing nurses a relative autonomy. Nurses were initially led by the Sisters of Charity who supervised them. Changes in the demographics of nursing, the type of preparation needed for it and the management system together with political decisions that often followed similar ones taken abroad, affected Maltese nurses. The official opening of the St Luke's School for Nurses and the introduction of nurse education at tertiary level were significant markers in the process of professionalisation. The thesis presents an insight into how Maltese nurses did not show much eagerness to reach professionalisation but were still propelled towards it by changes occurring extrinsically and then intrinsically. This is perhaps unique since nurses in other countries had nurse leaders who actively worked to reach professionalisation.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorChristine Hallett (Supervisor) & Jane Brooks (Supervisor)


  • History Nursing Malta Professionalisation Change Education

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