Dr. Wytenbroek is a social historian of twentieth-century health care, with a particular interest in understanding and interpreting the historical forces that have shaped the nursing profession and practice. She draws on historical research, sociology, feminist studies and social justice to explore the history of health care and nursing through the lens of race, gender, religion and politics. Her current book project, American (Inter)Nationalism in Iran, examines American mission nurses in Iran and their efforts to cultivate international nursing standards in the country. She is also writing about whiteness and Canadian nursing, nursing voice and social justice, and the history of perioperative nursing in Canada and the United States. She is a member of the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry at UBC.
- BSN, University of British Columbia
- BA (History), Trinity Western University
- MA (Interdisciplinary Humanities), Trinity Western University
- PhD (History), York University
- Doctoral Fellow, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of Nursing History, University of Pennsylvania
- Rice Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Nursing & Health Care, University of Virginia
Affiliations and Links
- Media Review Editor, Nursing History Review
- Awards Committee, American Association for the History of Nursing
- Publications Committee, American Association for the History of Nursing
- Scholarship Committee Member, Canadian Association for the History of Nursing
- 2021 Program Committee Co-Chair, Canadian Society for the History of Medicine-Canadian Association for the History of Nursing Joint Conference
Honours & Awards
- 2020 Alice Fisher Society Fellowship, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania
- 2020 Teresa E. Christy Award for Exemplary Historical Research and Writing in a Doctoral Dissertation, American Association for the History of Nursing
- 2017 Education Innovation Award (with Helen Vandenberg), Western and North-Western Region Canadian Association Schools of Nursing
- 2017 Professional Development Grant, York Centre for Asian Research, York University
- 2015 Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement, Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada
- 2015 Robert Cuff Fellowship Award for American History, York University
- 2014 Canada Graduate Scholarship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
- 2014 Robert Cuff Fellowship Award for American History, York University
- 2014 Graduate Scholarship, Department of History, York University
- 2013 Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Ontario Government
- 2013 Graduate Scholarship, Department of History, York University
- 2012 Allemang Scholarship for the History of Nursing, Canadian Association for the History of Nursing
- 2012 Research Scholarship, British Columbia History of Nursing Society
- 2012 Graduate Scholarship, Department of History, York University
- 2011 Research Scholarship, British Columbia History of Nursing Society
- 2009 Canada Graduate Scholarship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Dr. Wytenbroek is a social historian of twentieth-century health care, with a particular interest in understanding and interpreting the historical forces that have shaped the nursing profession and practice. Her historical interests are shaped by her experiences as a post-operative nurse. She is interested in gender and health, racism in nursing and health care, nursing internationalism, medical migration and mobility, nursing and film, the history of nursing specialties, and the history of medical technology. Her teaching interests also include the history of epidemics, eugenics, medical experimentation, the rise of the hospital, public health, ethics, global health and nursing activism.
Imperial Pathways of Mobility: Doctoring Women and the American Surgical Enterprise in Iran, 1888-1940
Associated Medical Services
“Imperial Pathways of Mobility” analyzes the career trajectories of women physicians who participated in the American Presbyterian Medical Mission to Iran between 1888 and 1940. The project focuses on their efforts to use mission medicine to develop medical skills, particularly surgical expertise, that they could not readily acquire in the United States in the early twentieth century. It explores how women physicians negotiated the project of empire to fashion new doctoring identities for themselves, and thereby advance their position within mission medicine and American medicine more broadly.
A Social History of Perioperative Nursing at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, 1915-1975
UBC Hampton New Faculty Grant
This project considers the origin and expansion of perioperative nursing at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) in Toronto between 1915, when WCH opened its first operating room, and 1975, when the nursing school at WCH was closed. It seeks to place the specialization of operating room nursing in historical context to better grasp the significance of this development. This study will be the first step in a larger project that explores the history of perioperative nursing in Canada. It uses the analytical concept of space to explore three interrelated themes – socialization, specialization and standardization – and it emphasizes perioperative nurses’ agency and innovation.
American (Inter)Nationalism in Iran, 1907-1979
This project investigates the Presbyterian surgical mission in Iran during a turbulent period in Iran’s national history, paying particular attention to the important, but largely neglected, role of nurses. Drawing on mission records, hospital reports, personal letters, memoirs and photographs, I analyze how American nurses navigated their position within three male-dominated spaces: the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, the mission hospital and Iranian health care. I consider how American women utilized gendered narratives about nursing as “natural” female work as a political strategy to carve out autonomous areas of nursing control within mission medicine and the field of healthcare in Iran. Nursing emerged as a prospective career for Iranian women in the early twentieth century due to nationalist concerns about the development of Iran as a healthy, prosperous and modern nation. I also analyze the ways that Iranian women took advantage of mission nursing education in order to advance their education and cultivate prominent nursing careers. I argue that they used mission nursing as an avenue for financial, social, geographical and professional mobility.
Cultivating Whiteness in the Canadian Nursing Press
This project explores the ways that Canadian nurses participated in and reproduced white cultural privilege through Canada’s national nursing journal, the Canadian Nurse. Using images, advertisements, editorials and articles published in the nursing press between 1905 and 1950, I argue that nursing leaders linked professional nursing identity to whiteness, and thereby actively participated in maintaining oppressive race, gender and class-based hierarchies.
Dr. Wytenbroek’s teaching bridges the sciences and humanities. She has taught history of health care courses to undergraduate and graduate nursing, public health and medical students. In all her courses, she focuses on encouraging students to think critically about social constructions of health and illness, health inequities and social justice, and health systems in North America and elsewhere. She has found nursing students eager to think about science and health care through the lens of social and cultural history. Historical methodology is one tool that nursing students can use to explore broader issues or racism and systemic discrimination in health care.
NURS 690: Exploring the (In)Visibility of Black Nurses in British Columbia using Historical Methods
NURS 330: Theoretical Perspectives in Nursing: Adults/Older Adults and their Families
NURS 531: Theoretical Foundations of Clinical Education