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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

The College Archives


The Nursing Certificates

The Certificate of Proficiency in Mental Nursing was founded at the Medico-Psychological Association Annual Meeting in 1890 and until 1921 was the only recognised qualification in mental nursing. A separate certificate in Mental Deficiency Nursing was instituted in 1919 and a short-lived Occupational Therapy Certificate was introduced in 1939. After negotiations with the General Nursing Council, the examinations for these certificates were discontinued, the last being held in 1951.

The College Archive of these examinations includes the following items:
 
Handbooks
Handbook Committee reports and letters, 1937-52.
A series of nursing handbooks, not quite complete.
 
Syllabus
Syllabus for the Examinations for the Certificate of Proficiency in Mental Nursing, November 1927; Syllabus for the Examinations for the Certificate of Proficiency in the Nursing of Mental Defectives, November 1927; Syllabus for the Examinations for the Certificate of Proficiency in the Nursing of Mental Defectives, 1932; Occupational Therapy: an Addendum to the Handbook for Mental Nurses, 1938.
 
Regulations
Regulations for the Training and Examinations for the Certificate of Proficiency in Nursing and Attending on the Mentally Defective, undated, before 1926; Regulations for the Training and Examinations for the Certificate of Proficiency in Mental Nursing and in the Nursing of Mental Defectives, revised February 1930, revised 1932; Regulations and Rules for the Nursing Certificates, July 1938; Regulations and Syllabus for the Certificate in Occupational Therapy, 1939.
 
Question papers
Mental Nursing Preliminary and Final Examination and Mental Deficiency Nursing Examination question papers, May 1928 - May 1938;
Mental Nursing Preliminary Examination question papers, May 1938 - November 1949.
Mental Nursing Final Examination question papers, November 1938 - November 1951.
Mental Deficiency Nursing Final Examination question papers, November 1938 - November 1951.
 
Certificates
RMPA mental deficiency nursing certificates, proficiency in psychological medicine certificates, diplomas in psychological medicine, honorary fellowship, honorary members and corresponding members certificates, some named.
 
Registers
These registers give the names of successful candidates, date of examination, place of residence or examination centre, number on register and the names of supervising doctor only. All the volumes are indexed but in alphabetical order by the first letter of the alphabet only. There is no cumulative index.
 
  • Register of persons who have obtained the certificate of proficiency in nursing, 1891-1951.
  • Register of persons who have passed the preliminary examination in nursing, 1938-49.
  • Register of persons who have obtained the certificate of proficiency in nursing mental defectives, 1919-51.
  • Register of persons who have passed the preliminary examination in nursing mental defectives, 1938-49.
  • Register of persons who have passed the examination in occupational therapy, 1939.
  • Educational Committee register of chief examiners for the mental nursing certificate, 1931-51.
Nursing badges and medals
Medals or badges (the term seems to have been used interchangeably) were issued to successful examination candidates as follows:
  • Medals showing Psyche (representing the soul or spirit) engraved with the successful candidates' numbers, issued 1893-1903
  • Medals showing Psyche as above, engraved with the recipients' name instead of their numbers, issued 1903-26 and with the words 'with distinction' added where appropriate.
  • In 1926 the Medico-Psychological Association was granted a Royal Charter and changed its name to the Royal Medico-Psychological Association. The medals were then remodelled to show the newly granted coat of arms instead of Psyche, 1926. An optional blue ribbon could also be used from 1926 onwards.
  • A badge or brooch for outdoor uniform was issued from 1928-1951. There was a different design for mental nurses and mental deficiency nurses.

 

It is not known if medals were issued for the occupational therapy examinations that the RMPA organised from 1939-47.
The College only has a few badges or medals, as follows:

  • Medal showing Psyche, without a recipient's name, number or distinction, issued 1893-1926
  • Medal showing Psyche, with a recipient's name and with distinction, issued 1903-26
  • Medal showing the (R)MPA coat of arms, without a recipients name and with space for a ribbon, issued 1926-51
  • Medal showing the (R)MPA coat of arms, with a recipients name, issued 1926-51
  • Badges for outdoor uniform issued 1926-51 for the mental nursing and mental deficiency nursing examinations.

 

Prizes
Campbell Clark Medal and Prize

This was instituted in 1933 in memory of Dr A Campbell Clark, who had been very instrumental in promoting mental nurse training and instituting the nursing certificate. It was awarded each year in May and November to the candidate with the highest marks in the final examination for the certificate. There is a Campbell Clark medal but no correspondence or other administrative papers relating to this among the nursing records.
 
Eleanor Finegan Prize
This was instituted by Dr Arthur Finegan in memory of his wife and was originally awarded to the nurse, male or female, at the Mullingar District Asylum, West Meath, Ireland, who had the highest marks in the (R)MPA Examination for Mental Nursing. This was later changed so that the Prize (worth £5 per annum) could be awarded to the nurse with the highest mark in the examination wherever it was held. There is one file among the nursing records containing: Copy Trust Deed, 1913; correspondence of Dr Finegan, (R)MPA and Public Trustee and instructions to Counsel on changing terms of Trust Deed, 1947-8.
 
State registration
Extract from Council report, 1926; report on questionnaire, 1928, report on mental defective nurse training, 1928 (all in one pamphlet); letters on relations with the GNC, 1926-9; memos on termination of the examinations, 1946-51. Shortage of mental nurses: RMPA report and related memos and correspondence, 1953-6. Disciplinary matters: Disciplinary Committee minutes and correspondence on GNC, 1962-3.
 
Miscellaneous
Memo on nurses' examinations in mental deficiency, c1939; memo on the present position regarding the appointment and duties of examiners for the nursing examinations, c1939.
 
Pamphlets
Pamphlets, mostly not (R)MPA publications, relating to nurse training 1868-1970.