Spectators & spectacles: nurses, midwives and visuality

A Barnard, Marlene Sinclair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Aim. In this paper we reflect on how linear perspective vision influences the practice of nurses and midwives and to advance understanding of clinical practice in technologically intensive environments through examination of drawings by nurses and midwives and through critical analysis.Background. There is increasing emphasis on vision in Western culture, and both nurses and midwives spend a great deal of time observing their clinical environment(s). Healthcare practitioners work increasingly in image-based realities and nurses rely on visual skills. Vision and visual representation are central to our practice and are important to examine because we look often at technology to assess people and care.Discussion. The world in which we practise is one of meaning(s). Technological development is transformative in nature and produces changes that alter the way(s) we give care. Amongst all this change, it is unclear how we practise in environments characterized by increasing technology and it is unknown how nursing and midwifery practice alter as a result.Conclusion. Simple drawings included in this paper highlight an important and shared experience of clinical practice(s). They emphasize the importance and scope of the visual sense and expose practitioner behaviour that has enormous implications for current and future professional development and person-focussed care provision. Experiences described in this paper require further examination and highlight substantial changes to nurse–patient relationships, health care and the way we practise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-586
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • clinical practice
  • midwifery
  • nursing
  • technology
  • theory
  • vision
  • visualism


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