Carmen Portillo, PhD, RN, FAANCarmen Portillo, PhD, RN, FAAN

“In 1975, the world was a very different place,” Carmen Portillo, PhD, RN, FAAN, immediate past president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, told NAHN members at the opening ceremony of the association’s 25th Annual Conference last summer. “The war in Vietnam finally ended; the International Women’s Year Conference adopted a 10-year plan to improve the status of women. Congress repealed the Taft-Hartley Act, giving nurses the right to collective bargaining. In 1975, the world held 4 billion people—but no personal computers and no cell phones. The world had not yet heard about AIDS.”

Back then, the world was also a dramatically different place for Hispanic nurses. There were very few nurses of Hispanic origin in the nursing work force—even though the nation’s Hispanic population was growing rapidly. With very few exceptions—most notably, Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, PhD, RN, FAAN—there were virtually no Hispanic nurses working in academic settings, doing research on Hispanic health issues or advising federal policy-makers about the health care needs of Hispanic people.

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