From the first male nurse to be inducted into the national nursing Hall of Fame to nurses of color who courageously blazed trails in education, research, clinical practice and advocacy, the groundbreaking achievements of minority nurse leaders were in the spotlight throughout the American Nurses Association’s 2004 Biennial Convention, held June 26-29 in Minneapolis.

At the convention’s opening session, Luther P. Christman, PhD, RN, FAAN, was inducted into the ANA’s prestigious Hall of Fame, established in 1976 to honor nurses whose accomplishments have significantly affected the nursing profession. As the first male inductee in the Hall of Fame’s 28-year history, such barrier breaking is typical of Christman’s pioneering 65-year nursing career. He was the first man to be named dean of a nursing school in the United States. As dean of Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing, he was the first to employ African-American women as faculty members.

A champion of diversity in nursing and an advocate for the recruitment of more men into the profession, Christman was the founder of the American Assembly for Men in Nursing as well as a founder of the National Student Nurses’ Association. As founder and dean of the Rush University College of Nursing, he established a premier school of nursing that pioneered the practitioner-teacher role and science-based academic models.

The next evening, at the convention’s awards presentation, ANA honored 11 outstanding nursing leaders, including two nurses of color. Harriet L. Brathwaite, MSN, RN, received the Mary Mahoney Award, which recognizes significant contributions to advancing equal opportunities in nursing for members of minority groups.

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As a clinical specialist, educator and administrator, Brathwaite, who is African American, has facilitated the establishment of programs and services that have made it possible for people of color to become part of educational systems, professional organizations and health services delivery systems. She has been a role model and mentor to many minority nurses, encouraging them to join professional associations, become involved in the political process and serve as mentors themselves to help advance the educational and professional achievements of nurses from all backgrounds.

Lolita B. Compas, MA, RN, CEN, a past president of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, received the Honorary Human Rights Award for her advocacy on behalf of foreign-educated nurses working in the U.S. Since arriving in America in 1969, Compas has helped many other immigrant nurses overcome the challenges of transitioning into U.S. nursing careers, such as finding housing, adjusting to cultural differences and studying for state boards. During the 1980s nursing shortage, she was instrumental in providing documentation to the New York State attorney general regarding the exploitation of foreign nurses. Her efforts led to sanctions against offending employment agencies.

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