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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Provincial public health nursing in British Columbia from 1939-1959 : a social history Whyte, Nora Beatrice


This study was designed to examine the status of public health nursing in British Columbia's Provincial Health Service during the period from 1939 to 1959. Based on the social history approach, the focus of the study was public health nursing and influences on its evolution during the selected period. The historical method was used to collect and analyze data from various primary and secondary sources; these included annual reports of provincial health units, annual reports of the Division of Public Health Nursing, journal articles, and oral histories. Data were subjected to content analysis to reveal themes relevant to the topic. Several important factors were identified that had affected the development of public health nursing during the selected period. Data were categorized according to the various influences and research notes were written as a basis for the historical account. The presentation of findings included descriptions of the organization of public health services in the province and the role of the public health nurse. This was followed by a discussion of the forces and their impact on public health nursing. The study's conclusions were drawn from the analysis of the historical data within the social context of the time. During the 1939 to 1959 period, some of the major influences on provincial public health nursing were basic education for public health nurses, staff development on the job, the demand for services, and the supply of qualified personnel. Other factors were the social and political forces of the time, the health care system, and the role of voluntary agencies in public health care. Although public health nursing faced a number of problems, these were overcome to a large extent through creative strategies that promoted collegiality among staff and enhanced job satisfaction. Public health nurses had a strong sense of identity and were respected because their work contributed to improving the health of the communities they served.

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