The Government of Canada today honoured Ethel Johns, founding director of the UBC School of Nursing, as a Person of National Historic Significance.
A plaque celebrating her contributions to Canada was unveiled at UBC on behalf of Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.
Johns (1879-1968) was a leading advocate for nursing education and professional practice in Canada and internationally. Her work led to the opening of a university program for nurses at UBC in 1919, the first program of its kind in the British Commonwealth. Johns served as the school’s first director.
Johns faced down fierce opposition from those who thought university education would leave nurses overtrained, Suzanne Campbell, director of the UBC School of Nursing, said.
“Ethel Johns was an extraordinary leader during the early years of Canadian nursing education,” Campbell said.
“From establishing the first university degree nursing program in Canada, to her prolific scholarly writing and pioneering research on nursing practice, her vision for the nursing profession was nothing short of inspirational.”
The UBC nursing program was established as part of the applied science faculty, where it remains today.
Marc Parlange, dean of the faculty, said: “We’re delighted that Ethel Johns has been recognized as a national historic person of Canada. At the Faculty of Applied Science, we are proud of our capacity to align the applied professions toward solving societal problems such as health and infrastructure.”
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