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During Hispanic Heritage Month, Salud America! is celebrating Latino trailblazers, historical figures, and inspirational stories.
In this article spotlight, we will recognize Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, PhD, RN, FAAN.
Dr. Murillo-Rhode was a nurse and professor who strived to serve underrepresented communities and create equal opportunities for Latinos within health professions.
Early Life of Murillo-Rohde
Dr. Murillo-Rhode was born in on Sept. 26, 1920, in Panama. She immigrated to San Antonio, Texas, in 1945.
Born into a family of health physicians, Rohde studied to become a nurse.
Dr. Murillo-Rohde earned a nursing diploma from the Medical and Surgical Hospital School of Nursing in San Antonio, Texas, according to the NYAM Center for History.
Early on, she realized there were few Latino nurses working to serve the largely Latino community of San Antonio.
This underrepresentation would inspire Dr. Murillo-Rohde to help Latinos achieve an education to not only better themselves, but also to serve the community.
She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychiatric mental health nursing at New York’s Columbia University and her master’s degree at New York University.
In 1971, she became the first Latina nurse to earn a PhD from New York University.
“Murillo-Rohde was an expert on psychotherapy, marriage, and family therapy, and served in several roles in academic administration, including Dean of the College of Nursing at SUNY Downstate Medical Center,” according to the NYAM Center for History.
Murillo-Rohde’s Contributions to Health
Latinos make up 5.7% of registered nurses in the United States, according to a 2017 analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services.
While there is plenty of room for the numbers to increase, there could not have been growth without the help of Dr. Murillo-Rohde.
Dr. Murillo-Rohde founded the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), formerly known as the Spanish Speaking/Spanish Surnamed Nurses’ Caucus, in 1975.
“In the 1970s Dr. Rohde secured a federal position reviewing research and educational grants. She encountered the same experience as in San Antonio, no Latina nurses in academic settings in research or in public policy, and she was motivated to make change,” reported the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.
NAHN’s mission is to improve health care delivery and outcomes for U.S. Latinos.
Dr. Murillo-Rohde, both individual and as part of NAHN, highlighted the underrepresentation of marginalized groups in the medical community as a national issue.
“I saw that I was the only Hispanic nurse who was going to Washington to work with the federal government, review research and education grants, etc.,” Dr. Murillo-Rohde said, according to the NYAM Center for History. “There was nobody else. I looked behind me and thought: ‘Where are my people?’”
Alongside continued work with the NAHN, Dr. Murillo-Rohde promoted cultural awareness as a psychiatric nurse, faculty member, professor, and dean.
The American Academy of Nursing honored her numerous achievements with its prestigious fellowship—one of the highest nursing honors in the nation,” according to the Google Doodle Archives.
“Dr. Murillo-Rohde dedicated her life to enhancing the quality of healthcare for underrepresented communities while equipping other Hispanic nurses with the skills to do the same,” according to the Archives.
Murillo-Rohde’s Impact Today
Dr. Murillo-Rohde continued her work with the NAHN until her passing on Sept. 5, 2010.
Today, NAHN continues to support opportunities for Latina nurses. This includes the Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde Scholarship and the Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde Award for Education Excellence by a Hispanic Registered Nurse, which recognizes members who have exhibited outstanding achievements in nursing education, research, and practice.
On Sept. 15, 2021, Dr. Murillo-Rohde also was recognized during Hispanic Heritage Month and featured on a Google Doodle. Latina artist Loris Lora created the illustration.
Learn more about Dr. Murillo-Rohde’s work and the NAHN by visiting its website.
Editor’s Note: Images of Murillo-Rohde are from the NYAM History of Medicine and Public Health.
By The Numbers
This success story was produced by Salud America! with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The stories are intended for educational and informative purposes. References to specific policymakers, individuals, schools, policies, or companies have been included solely to advance these purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation. Stories are based on and told by real community members and are the opinions and views of the individuals whose stories are told. Organization and activities described were not supported by Salud America! or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and do not necessarily represent the views of Salud America! or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.