Edie Brous
Nurse Attorney
118 East 28th Street
Room 404
New York, NY 10016
Tel. (212) 989-5469
Fax. (646) 349-5355

Web Site:

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Last September, I was invited by my beloved friend, Ethel Smith, to speak at the Harlem Hospital Center School of Nursing Alumni Association Scholarship Awards Luncheon. It was a remarkable experience for me – being surrounded by such accomplished professionals who have contributed so much to nursing. But it also created some sadness.  As excellent as my nursing education was, it was sorely lacking in exposing me to the achievements of non-white nurses.  Nursing history is rich with the contributions of people I was never told about. The courage and tenacity and commitment to this profession that women of color have exhibited should be required study in the nursing curriculum.  That it is not, is a loss to all of us.
When you study about Florence Nightingale, also read up on Mary Seacole – a Jamaican nurse to risked her life to work with deadly epidemics like cholera and yellow fever:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/seacole_mary.shtml
When you study about Clara Barton, also read up on Susie King Taylor – a daughter of slaves who treated union soldiers suffering from small pox and who dared to teach Black soldiers how to read: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/susie-king-taylor-1848-1912
Read about Harriet Tubman http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/04/27/475768129/nurse-spy-cook-how-harriet-tubman-found-freedom-through-food
and Isabella Baumfree (Sojourner Truth) http://civilwarwomenblog.com/black-civil-war-nurses/
not just for their abolitionist work, but for their contributions as nurses.
Read about Mary Mahoney – the first African American Registered Nurse educated in the United States: http://www.biography.com/people/mary-mahoney-41021
Read about Lillian Holland Harvey – a woman who founded the first BSN program in Alabama in 1948: http://www.tuskegee.edu/Articles/lillian_holland_harvey_tribute.aspx
Read about Estelle Massey Osborne – the first nursing instructor at Harlem Hospital School of Nursing and the first Black woman to earn a master’s degree, as well as the first Black consultant to the National Nursing Council for War Service during World War II: http://www.nursingworld.org/EstelleMasseyOsborne
Read about Hazel Johnson Brown – another Harlem Hospital graduate and the first Black woman to be promoted to Brigadier General and to head the United States Army Nurse Corp.: http://www.visionaryproject.org/johnsonbrownhazel/
There are so many others.  Women of color and particularly, Harlem Hospital graduates have earned a unique place in nursing history.  They should be recognized and revered.  It is shameful that I was not taught about these women as a student nurse.  Regardless of your entry to practice preparation – whether a diploma, AD, or BSN program; and regardless of your highest credentials – do not consider your education complete until you study these women in our professional history.  Thank you, Ethel.  Black girl magic is real.
Bar Admissions:
  • New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
  • Southern and Eastern Districts New York Federal Courts
  • United States Supreme Court
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Copyright © 2016, Edie Brous, RN, Esq.