Seeding a profession: The intersection of the state, international interests, and the early development of Brazilian nursing

Taka Oguisso, Genival Fernandes De Freitas, Allison Squires, Barbara Barrionuevo Bonini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


State and international entities can have profound effects on the development of a country's nursing profession. Through a global health governance lens, this paper explores the development of nursing in Brazil during the early twentieth century, and its intersections with national and international interests. Accordingly, we will show how state policies established an environment that fostered the institutionalization of nursing as a profession in Brazil and supported it as a means to increase the presence of females in nation building processes. The State focused on recruiting elite women for nursing, in part due to the Rockefeller Foundation's involvement in the country. Nurses who worked for Rockefeller came from well-educated classes within US society with specific ideas about who should be a nurse and the roles of nurses in a healthcare system. These women served as the primary vehicles for interacting with Brazilian health authorities responsible for health system development. Their early efforts did not, however, ensure a system capable of producing nursing human resources at a rate that, in present day Brazil, could meet the health needs of the country. Findings from this paper offer new avenues for historians to explore the early roots of professional nursing through a global health governance lens, improve the understanding of the intersection between international politics and professionalization, and highlight how these factors may impact nursing human resources production in the long term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-50
Number of pages21
JournalCultura de los Cuidados
Issue number44
StatePublished - 2016


  • Biographies
  • Brazil
  • Global health
  • Global health governance
  • Globalization
  • Health policy
  • Nurses
  • Nursing
  • Nursing education
  • Nursing history
  • Schools of nursing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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