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#RCN100 Celebrating 100 years of the Royal College of Nursing

The Birth of the Clinic

Michel Foucault

The Birth of the Clinic

Maurice Nagington, Lecturer

Reason you chose this book

This was the first piece of philosophy that I ever read. I remember going into a library on my day off, reading the same pages again and again, then realising a whole hour had gone! But the reward of thinking about nursing in a different way was worth it.


Foucault engages in a challenging, complicated and at times completely counterintuitive analysis of modern medicine. Whilst its relevance to nursing may not be immediately relevant, the way in which Foucault unpicks the way in which medical knowledge gains power to describe patients whilst delegitimising other ways of constructing patients can help challenge the ways in which nurses need to critique the development of the profession along medical lines. This critical reflection is key to developing a more ethical relationship between institutions and the people that access them.

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March's page turners

Read all of March's book reviews.