Dilmi is a woman of the world. Born in Paddington, UK and brought up in Sri Lanka – a dual citizen, inspired by her parents, she became a registered general nurse while in Guildford, Surrey, England in 1992. Over the following years, while working full time, she obtained certifications in intensive care nursing, application of research, teaching and assessing in clinical practice from the English National Board of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, UK (ENB) and completed her BSN at the University of Manchester in 1995. Driven by a need to be around her family (parents and siblings), she returned to Sri Lanka in 1996. Supported in part by a scholarship from the Canadian International Development Agency and Athabasca University, she came to Canada in 1997 and completed her MSN at UBC in 1998; she credits her experiences at UBC for developing in her a love of learning and scholarship. Her thesis topic, under the supervision of Prof. Joan Anderson, was “Nursing Students’ Understanding of the Concept of Culture: A Critical Ethnography.” She acknowledges Joan for encouraging her to write – she was presented with a pen on completion of her master’s with a message to ‘keep writing’. Continuing to obtain various certifications in continuing nursing education (International Council of Nurses in Geneva, Switzerland) and accreditation as a teacher in higher education (Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) UK and Staff Development Centre, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka), she then went on to complete a MBA at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2004, where she completed a thesis on “Factors Affecting Nurses Productivity: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study” and a skills project on “Strategic Plan and Feasibility Study for the BSc Nursing Program at the Open University of Sri Lanka.”
Dilmi’s next educational adventure brought her back to Canada, to University of Alberta this time where, primarily by distance (because of commitments to her husband and children), she completed her PhD in Nursing in 2017, having done a dissertation on “Nursing in Sri Lanka: Situating a Study of Nurses’ Intent to Leave or Stay in an Organization within the Context of Professional Issues and Nurse Migration.” Primarily based in Sri Lanka over this period, she experienced learning at a distance and engaging in scholarship amidst juggling family commitments and life’s challenges. She learnt that a lot is achievable with focus, sheer determination and commitment, and credits her family (husband and children in particular), friends, colleagues and classmates for enabling her achievements. Between times, she has held various academic positions, including Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Head, at The Open University of Sri Lanka as well as research assistant/associate positions at the University of Alberta and the Institute of Health Policy in Sri Lanka. She has also contributed her expertise through voluntary service to the “Education, Training and Research Unit” at the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka and community service to such non-governmental organizations as “Friends without a Border” (USA) and “The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement” (Sri Lanka) as well as the Human Resource and Education Committee of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Dilmi’s scholarly work has been presented internationally, and she has published in a number of prestigious scholarly journals, including receiving an “editor’s choice” commendation from the International Nursing Review and a National Research Council (Sri Lanka) Merit Award for Scientific Publication for a paper in Nursing Inquiry. Through it all, she has maintained her connections with the UBC School of Nursing and her former colleagues and classmates, and remains a valued part of the School’s wider international nursing community.
Photos from her November 2017 University of Alberta Convocation, with son Ajay (13) and daughter Anila (11).
Written by Dilmi Aluwihare-Samaranayake and Sally Thorne – January 2018