Researching Nursing History

Researching Nursing History

As National Nurses Week 2023 begins its celebration of nurses around the world, nurses everywhere will look forward to the future of nursing while also honoring nursing history and all the nurses who came before them.

For some nurses, digging deep into nursing history is a way to learn more and to document the important pieces of a nursing past that could be lost with time. Ashley Graham-Perel, EdD, RN, NPD-BC, MEDSURG-BC, CNE, assistant professor of nursing at the Columbia University School of Nursing and a member of American Association for the History of Nursing (AAHN) is also a nurse researcher who has found this work both personally rewarding and professionally satisfying.

Nurses in the AAHN are committed to a diverse range of topics that piece together the broad, remarkable, and often unrecognized work of nurses in history. Dr. Graham-Perel shared her nursing research experience with Minority Nurse and encourages other nurses to follow those questions they have about the nurses who paved the way.

Can you please tell me about your research and how you became interested in pursuing it? 

My research focuses on the lack of racial diversity in nursing education and its direct impact on our diverse patient population. I realized there was a lack of racial diversity throughout my nursing education journey, this includes my associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and ultimately, doctoral degrees in nursing. I recognized that I was searching for someone who I could identify with (someone who looked like me and shared my culture) in all of those programs, it was a consistent challenge to do so. In my doctoral degree, I wanted to dig deeper into why this was a problem. Honestly, I was committed to making this research a quantitative venture, however, I realized there were more questions than answers–and that led me to historical research.

I was incredibly fortunate to meet Dr. Sandra (Sandy) Lewenson at Teachers College Columbia University, who introduced our doctoral cohort to historical research. Dr. Lewenson made me realize my love for nursing history and served as my dissertation chair. For my dissertation, I wanted to uncover why there was a lack of racial diversity in nursing education and practice. When did this start? What caused this deficiency and what can be done to correct it? The questions went on and on.

I “peeled the layers back” far enough to discover the first school of nursing established in NYC to educate Black women in nursing, that is, the Lincoln School for Nurses (LSN) of the Bronx, N.Y., 1898 to 1961. Now, out of all my years of schooling and years being an RN, I have never heard of this school. I was ashamed and frustrated at this fact. I conducted a historical investigation on the school, the graduates, and their impact on the health of Black patients.

My research continues as I conduct oral histories of living graduates of LSN. The Lincoln School for Nurses has a beautiful and enriched history that should be acknowledged and celebrated. It is my honor to share it as a nurse historian.

What is most rewarding about researching the history of nursing? 

What is most rewarding about researching the history of nursing is filling in the blanks. I had so many questions (I honestly still do), but when you uncover an answer or a link to an answer, it is extremely fulfilling. I get to teach others about historical truths that were hidden from us or simply not included in nursing history.

How did the AAHN help your nursing history work? 

When I joined AAHN, it was like finally finding my niche! They were helpful in guiding me with the principles of nursing history and how to efficiently conduct historical research. For example, I served as a co-investigator on the oral history of Dr. Bernardine Mays Lacey, conducted by Dr. Lewenson. We did receive AAHN funding for the oral history (which was published in AJN August 2020) and the film that was subsequently produced.

Lastly, AAHN mentorship is a definite asset of being a member. History is special; finding others who are just as passionate and excited about nursing history and are willing to mentor scholars in the arts of history is one of the greatest gifts of the AAHN.

How will your historical research efforts help broaden and enrich the nursing communities you are in? 

My historical research broadens and enriches nursing academia by highlighting historical discriminatory practices that led to the deficiencies in the racial diversity of nursing. Investigating the lack of diversity in nursing education presented truths about how this impacts the recruitment, retention, and ultimate success rates of diverse nursing students.

My continued goal with historical research is to present discriminatory practices, or remnants of such practices, that are still present in our nursing profession and corrective recommendations for our future generations of nurses.

What would you want other nurses to know about this kind of work and why you might encourage them to pursue their own research projects into the history of nursing? 

It is essential for all nurses to know that in order to achieve a professional identity, one must know their history. One of Marcus Garvey’s famous quotes relates to this sentiment. He stated, “A people without the knowledge of their past, history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots.”

Nursing history is essential to understanding our profession, how we became to be, and how our past influences what lies ahead. I encourage nurses to include history in their research (no matter what type of research you are conducting), for there is not one facet of research that is not impacted by nursing history. Lastly, I encourage my peers to remember that if you have more questions than answers, history is the route to take!


Focusing on Cardiovascular Health in February

Focusing on Cardiovascular Health in February

February celebrates American Heart Month and nurses everywhere have tools at their disposal to continue adding to their vast knowledge of heart health throughout the year. Whether you’re a nurse who specializes in cardiac care, one who works in other specialties, or a nurse considering making a career move into the cardiac field, many resources will help you find more information.

Nurses talk about heart health with patients because it has an impact on so many other health conditions and on a patient’s general quality of life. A healthy heart is critical to keeping the body functioning properly, and nurses are especially interested in helping healthy hearts stay that way. That might mean sharing education and resources so healthy patients are motivated to keep their blood pressure and cholesterol in check or in increasing their movement to keep their heart muscles strong. It also might entail assisting and educating patients who have any kind of cardiovascular disease or who have a genetic predisposition to it about lifestyle habits and medications that can help them manage and control their conditions.

How does cardiac care influence your nursing practice? If you’re interested in finding out more information to help your patients or to keep your own cardiovascular health on track, you’ll find resources that benefit your professional and personal life.

Here are a few heart-focused organizations that offer valuable resources.

The Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association is a national nursing  association committed to helping prevent and manage heart health problems. This organization offers extensive clinical resources (patient education and provider focused) that are available for free. Nurses across the healthcare spectrum will likely find something within the resources they can use with their own practice and populations. From angina and hereditary conditions to an atrial fibrillation and stroke infographic to many tips sheets, nurses will find helpful information.

Nurses who work with patients living with heart failure will find the American Association of  Heart Failure Nurses to be a necessary connection. If you work with patients experiencing and managing heart failure, this professional organization will offer the kinds of resources, professional development, and networking that will simultaneously build your knowledge base while connecting you with nurses in the same specialty. Because folks living with heart failure face distinct challenges, AAHFN promotes the best care outcomes while continuing to advance nursing care progress.

The American Heart Association has many groups dedicated to cardiac health and the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing (CVSN) is for nurses who work in the cardiovascular care field. Nurses who are interested in policies, educational change, industry advocacy, and groundbreaking research will find this organization’s wealth of information of great use. The CSVN offers guidance and resources directed toward many nursing needs–from nurses who want information to help patients improve their cardiac health to those who are looking for a mentor. It also offers clinical symposiums and potential funding resources for nurse scientists who are doing research.

If you work with patients who are impacted by cardiovascular disease, you can look to certification to help you provide the most current cardiac care. The Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (CV-BC™) is for nurses who have an RN and who want to increase their understanding of cardiovascular care. This certification is good for five years and, as with other nursing certifications, signals to the wider community that you have a commitment to your nursing practice and that you are equipped with cutting-edge knowledge of the best practices.

Cardiovascular health impacts patients on all levels–from prevention to disease management. Nurses who specialize in the field have a wide community they can learn from and share knowledge with during American Heart Month or at any time of the year.

Recognizing National CRNA Week

Recognizing National CRNA Week

National CRNA Week kicked off its inaugural celebration when the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology introduced it in 2000. Since then one week in January (this year it’s January 22-28) is designated as a time to celebrate the nearly 60,000 nurse anesthetists practicing in the United States.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists  (CRNAs) work collaboratively with healthcare teams or independently. They administer or assist with administering anesthesia for patients undergoing procedures in various healthcare settings. CRNAs can be present for planned surgical procedures, in emergency settings, in pain management clinics, in dental offices, and in birth centers to name a few.

Nurse anesthetists are responsible for caring for and monitoring a patient’s anesthesiology needs during a procedure, but their work pre- and post-procedure are critical. They will gather medical history, medication information, and assess the patient’s physical and emotional condition when possible. They are constantly looking for and identifying any potential issues that could interfere with plans for anesthesia.

As with other nursing specialties, CRNAs have taken on more responsibility and needed to master increasingly complex healthcare conditions and tech-based equipment. Because of this, changes to the practice entry requirements now require all nurses entering a CRNA program to exit with a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or a Doctorate of Nursing Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) . Practicing CRNAs aren’t required to return to school for this additional advanced degree if they already have a master’s degree and have been in practice. Although it’s not required, some nurses may find that employment parameters are changing and that the DNP might be a requirement in a new place of employment.

CRNAs have careers that are dynamic and exciting. They can work directly with patients or they may choose to work in administration where they can have an impact on the conditions for patients and nurses. CRNAs also have options to work in government settings or to become active within committees to help shape the policies that surround CRNA work and career expectations. As CRNAs take on more leadership roles, they can use their direct real-world experience to inform the nuances of proposed changes.

As in all nursing specialties, time spent on the job is an excellent way to build skills and empathy for patients. CRNAs will want to continue learning about the rapid changes in the field with certification through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). Certification, which needs to be renewed to stay current, helps you remain informed on the latest developments that impact the duties you perform in your work. By staying up-to-date on the most current techniques and developments, you’ll be able to offer high-quality patient care that will result in better outcomes for your patients and the best performance by your team. Certification is a way to learn about everything from patient care to technological changes in equipment that can change your process.

Celebrate the CRNAs on your team this week and if you’re a CRNA take time this week to reflect on the work you do with your patients and your healthcare team. Be proud of the change you make in each patient’s life as you perform a critical task within the process.

Community Health Pioneer Gloria McNeal Tapped for AACN Award

Community Health Pioneer Gloria McNeal Tapped for AACN Award

Having spent her career “truly on the front lines making a difference,” Gloria McNeal, PhD, MSN, ACNS-BC, FAAN, will receive an AACN Pioneering Spirit Award at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) 2022 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition in Houston, May 16-18.

McNeal’s award recognizes her efforts to bring healthcare directly to those most in need and introduce telehealth and remote monitoring to critical care. The AACN Pioneering Spirit Award, one of AACN’s Visionary Leadership awards, recognizes significant contributions that influence progressive and critical care nursing and relate to the association’s mission, vision and values.

Gloria McNeal, PhD, MSN, ACNS-BC, FAANThe health equity trailblazer is associate vice president for community affairs in health at National University headquartered in San Diego, the flagship institution of the National University System, which comprises three nonprofit universities serving more than 45,000 students nationwide, both on-site and online. In this role, she leads the university’s comprehensive community and global outreach strategies efforts related to healthcare services and education. She previously served as dean for the university’s School of Health and Human Services for six years.

“Dr. McNeal has a passion for healthcare and serving those who are underserved,” said AACN President Beth Wathen. “Her community service efforts and nurse-led clinic model sponsored by the university bring healthcare directly to those most in need. She is truly on the front lines making a difference.”

At National University, McNeal has worked with community-based organizations to establish nurse-managed clinics at churches, community centers and shelters in South Los Angeles. The initiative was expanded to offer telehealth services for patient-provider interactions that do not require in-person visits.

Among her academic appointments, she has held the administrative positions of director, assistant dean, associate dean, dean and founding dean at various research-intensive public and private universities. As dean, McNeal has led several academic nursing programs on their journey to acquire national accreditation for both graduate and undergraduate curricula of study.

Her interprofessional, nurse-led and other projects, totaling more than $12 million in extramural funding, have been continuously funded for over 20 years. She currently serves as project director for the Health Resources and Services Administration Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) Simulation Education Training (SET) Program, a highly competitive grant-funded project initially awarded to a cohort of only five nursing programs nationwide. With this latest project, she is spearheading the use of virtual reality and immersive technologies to better prepare nursing students to practice in real-world settings through simulation.

Developing the protocols of care, she helped lead the transition of critical care nursing practice beyond the traditional walls of the intensive care unit, and was among the first to publish work on the remote monitoring and electronic transmission of ambulatory electrocardiographic data, revolutionizing the manner by which critical care nurses could remotely monitor their patients.

As a result of her work, she was invited to author “AACN Guide to Acute Care Procedures in the Home,” which describes over 100 complex nursing home-care procedures written in collaboration with 20 nursing expert contributors.

Her nursing career began as a critical care nurse in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps at Philadelphia Naval Hospital, where she received two medals of commendation and three promotions leading to the rank of Lieutenant.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Villanova University Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, where she currently sits on the Board of Consultors, and her master’s degree at University of Pennsylvania (Penn) School of Nursing, later receiving the Outstanding Alumna Award. She returned to Penn for doctoral studies in the Graduate School of Education. For her PhD, which was awarded with meritorious distinction, she investigated the scholarly productivity of minority nurse academicians.

The American Academy of Nursing awarded her the coveted Media Award in 1994, inducted her into the Academy in 2006, and most recently named her a 2020 Edge Runner Award recipient.

She served as an invited co-contributor for the IOM (now National Academy of Medicine [NAM]) text on “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change Advancing Health” and is a featured speaker for the current NAM podcast on “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030,” Episode 2 – Health Equity.

Making History: Q&A with NPWH’s First Black Chair Shawana Moore

Making History: Q&A with NPWH’s First Black Chair Shawana Moore

On January 1st, Shawana Moore, DNP, MSN, CRNP, WHNP-BC, assumed the role of Chair of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH). She also happens to be the first Black woman to hold the position, which lasts through December 31, 2024.

We interviewed Moore, who is also Assistant Professor/Director of the Women’s Health Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner Program at Thomas Jefferson University College of Nursing, to find out what this means to her and her plans for the future.

Shawana Moore

Shawana Moore, DNP, MSN, CRNP, WHNP-BC

What drew you to wanting to take a leadership position like this? When did you first become involved in NPWH?

My desire to impact diverse communities and amplify the voices of historically marginalized women and gender-related populations. I became involved in NPWH as a Program Director in 2014. NPWH provided the opportunity for individuals leading Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner/Women’s Health Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner programs throughout the nation to collaborate and share knowledge.

Being the first Black Chair in the organization’s 41-year history has to mean a great deal to you and other nurses of color. How did this make you feel? What do you think this says to nurses who are BIPOC?

I am honored and humbled to serve as the first African American Chair of NPWH. I hope to pave a pathway for other nurses from the BIPOC community to be elected or appointed to leadership positions within national organizations. This historical milestone within NPWH history displays to other nurse’s from BIPOC populations that they have the opportunity and capabilities to lead in high-level positions within the profession of nursing.

What are you bringing to the organization that past Chair/Presidents who were not BIPOC couldn’t have?  

Each Chair/President brings their perspectives, life experiences, and expertise to lead in this position. Those who have come before me have led the organizations to new heights. As I embark on this new role, my uniqueness as a Black woman brings a different viewpoint. I hope to use my perspectives, experiences, and expertise to facilitate and promote clinical practice, policy, community engagement, education, and research with a lens of equity.

What are your biggest challenges in this position? What do you think some of the greatest rewards are?

Being the first at anything comes with the challenge of not being seen or done before in the position. However, it serves as an opportunity to set the stage and create a pathway for others to build upon. The most significant rewards will be the opportunity to amplify historically silenced or unheard communities of women and gender-related populations, collaborate with other national organizations, and lead change within the profession using a lens of equity.

What advice would you give to nurses who are BIPOC about taking leadership roles?

I would advise nurses who are BIPOC to seek leadership roles in all facets of our profession. Their voices, perspectives, expertise, and experiences are valuable to society and can make meaningful and sustainable changes for communities of people.

National Black Nurses Association Celebrates and Honors Black History Month with Black Nurse Leaders

National Black Nurses Association Celebrates and Honors Black History Month with Black Nurse Leaders

The National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) is honored to celebrate Black History Month with the Black Nurse Leaders Series 2022 initiative. This effort highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and making transformational impacts in the field of nursing.

16 honored executives will be featured during the month of February.


NBNA President Dr. Martha A. Dawson leadership quote.

“There is no denying, at this time in history, nurses are leading the way in healthcare and our country,” stated NBNA President Dr. Martha A. Dawson. “This is an optimal time to share insights from  experienced top professionals in the field who can deliver thoughtful messages and inspire the next generation of black nurses. It is also very important to highlight prominent Black nurse leaders in this country who represent them. NBNA is ecstatic to share a stellar panel of professionals to honor Black History Month 2022!”


16 Nurses who will be featured during the month are:

  • Dr. Martha A. Dawson, President and CEO, National Black Nurses Association
  • Dr. Debra A. Toney, President, National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations
  • Dr. Dora Clayton-Jones, President, International Association of Sickle Cell Nurses and Professional Associates
  • Dr. Sarah Killian, National President, Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority, Inc.
  • Dr. Millicent Gorham, Executive Director, National Black Nurses Association
  • Dr. Ernest Grant, President, American Nurses Association
  • Dr. Lindsey Harris, President, Alabama State Nurses Association
  • Dr. Barbara Hatcher, President, Chi Eta Phi Education Foundation, Inc.
  • Patricia Lane, President-elect, American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
  • Dr. Beverly Malone, CEO, National League for Nursing
  • Donna Mazyck, CEO, National Association of School Nurses
  • Ottamissiah Moore, President, National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy
  • Dr. Tonya Moore, Executive Director, Mississippi Nurses Association
  • Beverly Morgan, President, Lambda Psi Nu Nursing Sorority, Inc.
  • Dr. Linda Scott, President-elect, American Academy of Nursing
  • Dr. Danielle McCamey, Founder, CEO & President, DNPs of Color

To view the full panel of featured nurse leaders and their background, go here. We encourage everyone to follow NBNA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay connected.

NBNA is currently accepting applications for membership. To become a member, go here for more information.

Official Hashtag: #NBNANurseLeaders2022

Featured Black History Month 2022 Black Nurse Leaders