Dominique Tobbell, medical and nursing historian and director of the Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry
Tobbell is the Centennial Distinguished Professor of Nursing and director of the Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry.

An icon of a nurse's cap to signify scholarship in nursing history.Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry director and the Centennial Distinguished Professor of Nursing Dominique Tobbell, a healthcare historian, earned the American Association for the History of Nursing's (AAHN) Lavinia Dock Award for 2023 for her recent book, DR NURSE: SCIENCE, POLITICS, AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF AMERICAN NURSING (University of Chicago Press, 2022), which examines American nurses' more expansive roles in the post-World War II era.

Tobbell’s scholarship focuses on the complex political, economic, and social relationships that developed after World War II between universities, governments, and the healthcare industry and that continue to impact modern-day systems.

$3K AAHN H21 Grant

"Nursing for community health: Nurse-led clinics in historical perspective, 1960-2010"

She has taught a variety of courses on the history of 20th-century American healthcare, with an emphasis on the ways that race, gender, class, sexuality, and disability determine Americans’ experiences with and access to healthcare.

In fall 2023, Tobbell earned a $3,000 H21 grant from the AAHN for "Nursing for community health: Nurse-led clinics in historical perspective, 1960-2010," which will allow her to tell the previously untold story of community-based nurse-managed clinics across the U.S. that tended primarily underserved rural and urban communities that aimed to reduce healthcare inequities and access and address social determinants of health.

Tobbell's latest work will offer a more expansive and inclusive view than previous community-health-nursing-focused narratives, which often rely on the memories of single clinic founders, and examine the kinds of health services offered at these clinics, assess the clinics' impact on and engagement with the communities they served, and analyze how changing healthcare policy and financing constrained practice, autonomy, viability, and sustainability.

As part of this new work, Tobbell will also tell the stories of community health clinics founded by nursing schools, which were usually run by faculty, staffed by students, and often funded by government or private grants, which meant they were sometimes short-lived. Her analysis will also be singular in its inclusion of community members' voices whose participation was as critical as their nurse-founders' and funders'.

Tobbell - an AAHN board member who has earned fellowships from the Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, UVA’s Miller Center, the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center, and the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy - is also the author of Pills, Power, and Policy: The Struggle for Drug Reform in Cold War America and its Consequences (University of California Press, 2012), and Health Informatics at Minnesota: The First Fifty Years (Tasora Books, 2015). 

Originally from the United Kingdom, Dr. Tobbell earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Manchester, and both a Master of Art and a PhD in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.