History of Nursing in Pacific Canada

100 Years of University Nursing Education : Why Then and Why Not Now? Duncan, Susan


The 100 year milestone of university nursing education at UBC offers a pause for reflection and inquiry. History assists us to illuminate current issues and debates in light of past events. An examination of the legacy of Ethel Johns and others who held the vision of why nursing education should enter the university in 1919 sheds light on these current issues and past events. As the first Director, Ethel Johns referred to the establishment of the University of British Columbia Department of Nursing as “the experiment”. Reflections on “the experiment” provides a standpoint to consider how this courageous and visionary leader might have viewed the outcomes of the “experiment” in 21st century Canadian university nursing education. Discourses and developments in nursing education today lead us to question if Johns’ vision is reflected in the value of a BSN preparation today. This presentation will explore questions pervasive in the history of academic nursing education through the lens of Ethel Johns and other leaders in nursing: Who and what inspired the original vision? What forces were at play and most important how do the themes of knowledge, leadership and social accountability, relate to the vision of nursing education today? Public health nursing was the original impetus for a university education at UBC and inspires a look at how the practice is viewed today as well as reflection on how or if the value of a BSN preparation is upheld by the profession and society. Projecting a vision from whence we have come is the opportunity that historical reflection affords us.

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