Nursing Shifts in Sichuan
320 pages, 6 x 9
15 photos, 13 tables, 1 map, 1 chart
Release Date:15 Aug 2022
Release Date:01 Dec 2021
Release Date:01 Dec 2021
Release Date:01 Dec 2021

Nursing Shifts in Sichuan

Canadian Missions and Wartime China, 1937–1951

UBC Press

Nursing Shifts in Sichuan illuminates modern nursing as one of the most consequential additions to early-twentieth-century health care in China. In 1943, members of the elite Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) were forced to evacuate to the "backwater" province of Sichuan, landing at the West China Union University campus in Chengdu. As part of an extraordinary mass migration of students and professors to Free China during the Japanese occupation, the refugee PUMC was hosted by the Canadian West China Mission for the next three years.

Nursing Shifts in Sichuan traces the tumultuous final days of twentieth-century relations between China and the West. The PUMC had been so successful in its attempts to develop a Chinese nursing elite that alumnae held most of the key nursing positions in the country. While under evacuation, PUMC transformed nursing at the Canadian mission, initiating the second university program in China. Both programs were closed by the new Communist government in 1951; degree programs lay dormant for the next thirty-five years.

In the contemporary era of exponential increases in East–West educational exchanges, Sonya Grypma offers both a cautionary tale about the fragility of transnational relations and a testament to the resilience of educated women.

Scholars and students of nursing and nursing history, Asian studies, philanthropic studies, and women’s studies will find this an invaluable work. It will also appeal to international students from China studying in North America, and to general readers with an interest in nursing, medical, or women’s history and China missions.

This is an important book and a riveting story. Sioban Nelson, professor, nursing, University of Toronto
Nursing Shifts in Sichuan is truly hard to put down! This is an exciting read, albeit sometimes a sad one, written by an outstanding scholar of nursing, religion, and mission. Social history at its best. Barbra Mann Wall, professor, nursing, University of Virginia
Nursing Shifts in Sichuan makes valuable contributions to the growing literature on medical missionary and nursing in modern China. Minghui Li, International Institue for Asian Studies

Sonya Grypma is internationally recognized for her work on missionary nursing in China. She is the author of Healing Henan: Canadian Nurses at the North China Mission, 1888–1947 and China Interrupted: Japanese Internment and the Reshaping of a Canadian Missionary Community. Grypma served as the dean of nursing at Trinity Western University before becoming Vice Provost of Leadership and Graduate Studies. She is the past president of the Canadian Association for Schools of Nursing.


Part 1: Before the PUMC Closure

1 China Calling (1914–1933)

2 Unsettling Nursing (1932–1940)

3 Shifting Missions (1936–1940)

4 The Bomb that Changed Everything (1940–1942)

Part 2: After the PUMC Closure

5 Starting over in West China (1943–1945)

6 Fighting the Foundation’s “Darling Child” (1943–1946)

7 “Our Triumphant Return” (1946–1949)

8 The Last Chapter (1949–1951)


Appendix 1 List of Nurses at the West China Mission

Appendix 2 PUMC Nursing Faculty to 1949

Appendix 3 List of All Interned Nurses in China

Appendix 4 PUMC Nursing Graduates to 1939

Notes; References; Index

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