Faye Glenn Abdellah (born 1919) dedicated her life to nursing and, as a researcher and educator, helped change the profession's focus from a disease-centered approach to a patient-centered approach. She served as a public health nurse for 40 years, helping to educate Americans about the needs of the elderly and the dangers posed by AIDS, addiction, smoking, and violence. As a nursing professor, she developed teaching methods based on scientific research. Abdellah continued to work as a leader in the nursing profession into her eighties.
Abdellah was born on March 13, 1919, in New York City. Years later, on May 6, 1937, the German hydrogen-fueled airship Hindenburg exploded over Lakehurst, New Jersey, where 18-year-old Abdellah and her family then lived, and Abdellah and her brother ran to the scene to help. In an interview with a writer for Advance for Nurses, Abdellah recalled: "I could see people jumping from the zeppelin and I didn't know how to take care of them, so it was then that I vowed that I would learn nursing."
Abdellah earned a nursing diploma from Fitkin Memorial Hospital's School of Nursing (now Ann May School of Nursing). In the 1940s, this was sufficient for practicing nursing, but Abdellah believed that nursing care should be based on research, not hours of care. She went on to earn three degrees from Columbia University: a bachelor of science degree in nursing in 1945, a master of arts degree in physiology in 1947 and a doctor of education degree in 1955.
With her advanced education, Abdellah could have chosen to become a doctor. However, as she explained in her Advance for Nurses interview, "I never wanted to be an M.D. because I could do all I wanted to do in nursing, which is a caring profession." As a practicing nurse, Abdellah managed a primary care clinic at the Child Education Foundation in New York City and managed the obstetrics gynecology floor at Columbia University's Presbyterian Medical Center.
Transformed Nursing... [continues]
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