Life story of Josicélia Dumêt Fernandes, teacher and nurse


Deybson Borba de AlmeidaI; Gilberto Tadeu Reis da SilvaII; Paulo Joaquim Pina QueirosIII; Genival Fernandes de FreitasIV; Igor Ferreira Borba de AlmeidaV

I Nurse. Doctor. Professor. Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana. Bahia, Brasil. E-mail: deybsonborba@yahoo.com.br
II Nurse. Doctor. Professor. Universidade Federal da Bahia. Bahia, Brasil. E-mail: gtadeuccreis@uol.com.br
III Nurse. Doctor. Professor. Escola Superior de Enfermagem. Coimbra, Portugal. E-mail: pauloqueiros@esenfc.pt
IV Nurse. Doctor. Professor. Universidade de São Paulo. São Paulo, Brasil. E-mail: genivalf@usp.br
V Dental surgeon. Graduated. Universidade Federal da Bahia. Bahia, Brasil. E-mail: igfecr@hotmail.com

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12957/reuerj.2017.17105




Objective: to place Josicélia Dumêt Fernandes, as a teacher, in the nursing profession, emphasizing her professional engagement and role in the Brazilian Nursing Association. Method: social history research, based on the oral history method, approved by the Research Ethics Committee (CAAE: 28775614.2.0000.5531). Data were collected by semi-structured interview and treated by thematic content analysis. Results: the study revealed the centrality of her political militancy in favor of quality in nursing education attentive to the technical, political and social dimensions of being-a-nurse, as expressed in her scientific production, essentially in the fields of health education and nursing. Conclusion: studies that address the contribution of militant nurses are important to fostering discussion of problems expressed in alienation and lack of identity, which are essential to valorization and recognition for the profession.

Keywords: Nursing; leadership; history; politics.




In this context, this article deals with the life story of an acof the Bahian nursing, teaching nursing since the 60's, with a life engaged in the defense of the profession, especially of the quality education in its many dimensions: political, social and technical.

The guiding concept of this study was about nursing understood here as a social practice - an action or activity, performed predominantly by women who reproduce their own existence in its exercise, using a knowledge derived from other sciences and a synthesis produced by themselves to seize the object of their job about what matters to the field of nursing care, in order to meet the social and health needs of the Brazilian population 1.

Under another aspect, this study has a great importance to the scientific field since after searching on the website of the Virtual Health Library using the search words political activism in nursing, were found two (02) studies linked to the student movement, which expresses a gap on the theme in question.

At the same time, this study is justified by the thematic approach of one of its authors, which is pursuing a doctorate in nursing and is developing a thesis on political activism, noting the fragility of the political activism of nurses and having experienced difficulties in these professional involvements in the issues of professional fight, in the trade union movement, councils and associations.

Therefore, this article had as objective: identify the insertion of Professor Josicélia Dumêt Fernandes in nursing with an emphasis in her professional engagement and performance in Brazilian Nursing Association (ABEn).



Militancy comes in people's lives as a possible route to exert themselves as a subject, to be what they are. Stories of people who have developed a political activism show that the greatest motivation of this exercise is the sense of social injustice so in social movement and militancy, they look for a territory where the change is possible2.

In a broad sense, the activism is a form of political participation engaged and critical, in which actions are carried out aimed at raising political awareness of the population, seeking to develop new values that enable people to organize themselves and fight for the construction of a fair and worthy society3.

However, there is a decline in political activism in recent years, especially in unions and parties political representation, due to the individualization of society, the weak background of individuals in political dimension, the strengthening of neoliberalism and the constant scandals involving these entities, when they don't represent the collective interest and fight for individual and or oligarchical groups interests what causes a critical lack of trust4.

In relation to nursing it is worth noting that it was a slow process to be identified and organized as a category of workers. Until the mid-80, it went through a time in which the profession consolidated the technical and social division of its work and maintained the differences; only after that period, a discussion and attitude review started, assuming, at least in speech, the unity of the category through associations, councils, and unions5.



It is a historical research, conducted by the biography of Professor and Nurse Josicélia Dumêt Fernandes, based on the method of oral history, which can be defined as a method of research that uses the technique of the interview and other procedures articulated in the narratives of human experience6.

To collect primary data, semi-structured interview was applied, being recorded on May 14th 2014, after authorization of the interviewed and signature of the concession term of copyright, and based on the study guiding question: how was your life story from childhood to the present day? Your student and academic career? Which movements led you to nursing militancy in Bahia? What constitutes a political activist? What are the main dilemmas, developments and prospects of political activism in nursing?

It is worth noting that Professor Josicélia Dumêt Fernandes, was born in Juazeiro, Bahia State, on 14th January 1944, is a scholar of research productivity of the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq)-Level 1D. Emeritus Professor of Nursing School at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). Doctorate in Nursing (1990). Coordinator of the Nursing Area of Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) (2008-2011), ad hoc Consultant of the Department of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education (MEC).

The report was recorded (2 hours and 35 minutes' duration), transcribed with the JDF identification. The analysis was performed in May 2014. Thematic content analysis method was used. Data analysis included the following steps: records classification, frequency-based enumeration, results and interpretations processing.

About the categorization of data based on units of registry and manifest content, it was possible to identify, over the life of the interviewed, acts that connect and relate: student act, professional care and education act and militant act.

This scientific research respected the ethical principles of research, proposed by resolution 466/2012, the project was referred to the Ethics and Research Committee, having been approved, CAAE: 28775614.2.0000.5531, via the opinion number 663,359.



From the discourse analysis emerged two categories that express the research participant biography, categorized into student and professional act, being these interchangeable, centered on the political militancy of that teacher and nurse. Such categories are treated below:

Student Act

[...] Already at the University, in the second year of nursing course, in the flow of my fighting spirit, I began to engage in a movement to defend the nurses training quality, by inserting the ABEn. At that time, teachers and students (I included) showed their dissatisfaction with the new curriculum approved by the 271/62 Opinion, which predominant vision was man as biological, masking the social aspect of the health/disease process. [...] (JDF)

[...] Studies for the master's course allowed me to move forward in search of a more general reflection on the State policies on health and education, opening paths to a horizon of resilience, revealing the contradictions of my practice so far. [...] (JDF)

[...] In the doctorate, continuing my studies searching the elucidation of the nursing reality, I tried to develop, for my doctorate, the thesis on the expansion of nursing education in Brazil. [...] (JDF)

In this sense, it is understood that the political activism promotes the personal and professional growth, learning and acquisition of knowledge. Several studies show that this experience enables individuals to learn about themselves, about relationships, about the world and about society; enables changes of behavior and personal achievement2.

The biography in question demonstrates that since graduating in nursing Josicélia Dumêt is a militant in defense of the profession and starts her first moves towards the quality of training. And at this point it is understandable that political activism is a generator itself, that in its exercise, we graduate and we understand there is political power in professional selling their workforce, in students, even when inserted into a traditional model of training, and that power comes from the people, from subaltern classes.

In this way, is highlighted that political activism is essential to pave the way for change, with an integral, ethics, politic and social vision committed with the human being and the Brazilian society, and should be avoided the exaggerated acceptance without question, what makes an often-repetitive practice and without creativity profession7.

Professional care and Nursing Education Act

[...] Since 1966, I started my associative activities, when I became a partner and member of the Brazilian Association of Nursing/section Bahia (ABEn/Ba). Since that time, I visualized the Brazilian Association of Nursing as everyone's responsibility, , both in its collective as individual expression. This thinking has permeated all my professional actions since then [...]. (JDF)

[...] It was with willingness and courage that I traced my professional way as a nurse, seeking to take my share of responsibility at the stage of intense sociopolitical and economic effervescence in the country [...]. (JDF)

[...] [About her career as a teacher] [...] there was a higher theoretical and reflective level accompanied the expansion of my scientific production, the actions of integration of research with teaching and extension, the struggles for a new curriculum that embraced the aspirations of the category and participation in movements of political and administrative decentralization of the health sector [...]. (JDF)

[As the Principal of the School of Nursing] [...] I searched [...] links with the community, looking for a more effective integration, either at the level of the University Administration, whether at the level of health service providers and at the level of the various entities of the civil society. [...] a tight defense of free public University within the democratic principles and competence [...] (JDF)

[...] In academia, I could live my contradiction, i.e. my reluctance with the social reality, trying to express myself in criticism and the commitment to a social practice that leads to act on this reality that we criticize. [...] (JDF)

The first statement presented denotes her involvement with the profession, much favored by the linking with class entities, her critical-reflective background and political understanding of the contexts to which she was inserted. That reveals that the experience in professional associations can bring out in student/professional a sense of belonging to a professional category, as well as a social implication of the subjects.

In this regard, it is noteworthy that in the period Josicélia Dumêt entered in ABEn, as a professional Brazilian Nursing lived a moment of extreme effervescence, expressed by movement Participation, defined as a social and political phenomenon of the profession to confront the crisis of the managing model of the entity in order to bring changes, aiming at a greater social recognition and better working conditions for Nursing8.

In this sequence, and in the professional field, categorized in the study of the biography of the life of the nurse and professor, it is clear her involvement with the Brazilian society, represented in the conflicts with the reality and the ethical and humanitarian sense of the militant.

Another aspect identified in the interviews was the implication with nursing, in the field of training and research, as well as her democratic and participative dimension anchored in the re- democratization process of the country.

In a conceptual sense, the process named here as re-democratization of the country understands the downfall of the military dictatorship started in the 70s, triggered by content changes in international relations and by the new internal political game settings. Highlighting the economic and political influence of the United States, as well as the mobilization of civil society9.

The democratic character conferred on the Professor's narrative demonstrates her connection with the times lived, as well as, her ideology and belief democracy is the driving spring of society, in order to allow an approximation of reality with the social justice and guarantee civil and political rights, in particular the right to quality education.

In this sense, it is noticeable the life of the teacher and nurse and her involvement with training and research in nursing, through questioning the curriculum of nursing courses, understanding the importance of teaching-research-extension triad and the essence of professional higher education in nursing.

Her understanding of teaching and care is expressed, requiring professional learning/practice covering technical, ethical and political dimensions. As well as the understanding that nursing reflects social and economic policies, both national and international, being often the interest product of various actors in political space-which is not a neutral field 10.

However, despite this fact, studies show that the nurse training does not contribute, in solid form, for their political performance11,12. Most of the professionals do not participate in class associations and do not consider themselves an essential part in the process of strengthening social organizations of political representation; they do not have consistent political positioning, resulting in the weak mobilization of this professional category13,14. Another study mentions the main difficulties of nursing political mobilization: little political awareness of nurses and difficulty of finding professionals who work actively on behalf of the profession, being the biography studied an example of militant exercise in nursing that can stimulate students, nurses and nursing technicians to have a political consciousness15.



Therefore, the objective of this study to identify the insertion of Professor Josicélia Dumêt Fernandes in nursing with an emphasis in her professional engagement and performance in Brazilian Nursing Association (ABEn) was achieved. It was identified that her engagement began by the student movement and at the same time, in the Brazilian Association of Nursing, her trajectory was engaged in militancy present in many moments of her life.

The results of the analysis category, student act, allow to identify that Josicélia Dumêt Fernandes was, since his first steps in nursing, involved with the issues of nurses training. She continued in her Master studying Education policies and in the doctorate with the analysis of the expansion of the nursing undergraduate courses.

The results of the analysis category, professional act, highlights her trajectory in ABEn and Nursing School, her democratic principles, social responsibility and inconformity with social questions, in defense of the Public University, not letting hegemonic issues determined by the capitalist system dominate her.

Finally, the acts identified are interchangeable to the militant act. The trajectory and political engagement of Josicélia Dumêt Fernandes with the Brazilian Nursing is for the sake of improving the reality of nurses who still have weaknesses in the exercise of the political dimension, experience poor conditions of work and enjoy little social recognition.

The biography studied can be a teaching expression of UFBA Nursing School, who cares about education, especially higher education in nursing, recognizing students as a being-in-action, sensitive to social issues and the problem of University precariousness. Their hopeful posturing, of faith and fight, defend a more aware and politically emancipated profession.



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