Ranjit Dhari: Capturing the History of Public Health Nursing and its Transformation from Nurses’ Work Experiences


My friend, Gilda Mahabir and I are passionate about Public Health Nursing, having had long careers as Public Health Nurses. As we observed many of our colleagues retiring we wanted to capture the stories of their amazing careers as Public health nurses. So we engaged in a project to capture the history of Public Health Nurses in British Columbia through their work as nurses.

The video below features a talk I gave at the Consortium of Nursing History Inquiry on March 9, 2016.


In a study of influences affecting public health nurses’ capacity to engage in health promotion work, public health nurses expressed a strong interest in preservation of their professional history. An oral history project was initiated in collaboration with the UBC Library and Archives to retain the history of public health nursing in BC Lower Mainland. Using a team approach, we conducted a series of oral history interviews with former public health nurses. This lecture highlights the process of oral history and the team approach of bringing public health nurses, faculty, students, and volunteers together as a way of engaging with nursing history and building capacity. Through the interviews we gain knowledge on the evolving PHN role and scope of practice in BC from nurses who experienced changes in practice first hand and often took a lead in implementing new practice initiatives.


Ranjit Dhari is a lecturer for the UBC School of Nursing. Passionate about Public Health Nursing, she worked for VCH as a Public Health Nurse for 29 years. She received her BSN in 1980 from the University of Manitoba and her MSN from UBC in 2013. Her Master’s Thesis is titled, An Exploration of Factors Influencing Public Health Nurses’ Capacity to Engage in Health Promotion.