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Pittsburgh Black Nurses in Action

Black History Month-Feb 2016 Blog: Ft. Guest Bloggers Dr. Dawndra Jones and Dr. Mildred Jones

Posted almost 3 years ago by Quentin Smith

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Black History Month

As we end Black History month celebrated in February, we honor past and present African American nurses beginning with our legacy.

An Amazing African American Nursing Legacy

  • Mary Seacole:
    Traveled to the Crimea to and helped wounded soldiers. Instrumental in
    creating boarding houses where the wounded could stay and rehabilitate.

  • Mary Mahoney:
    The first registered African American nurse in the United States.

  • Harriet Tubman:
    Known for her work with the Underground Railroad. As a nurse, she 
    created Harriet Tubman home for the aged.

  • Hazel Johnson Brown:
    First African American appointed as Chief of the Army Nurse Corps.

  • Barbara Nichols:
    First African American elected as the President of the American 
    Nurses Association (ANA).

  • Lauranne Sams:
    Founder of the National Black Nurses Association.

Adding to the Legacy

We are pleased to have two local African American nurse leaders serve as guest bloggers. Dr. Dawndra Jones and Dr. Mildred Jones both share their respective story and wisdom with us.

Dawndra Jones DNP, RN, NEA-BC

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style"
― Maya Angelou

I received my inspiration for my life's work when I was 10 years old and my great-grandmother had a stroke and came to live with us. During my childhood, my mother, a single parent, lovingly cared for my great-grandmother in our home for several years. As I watched and participated in her care, my interest grew in healthcare. During these years, I joined a Healthcare Explorer Program where the program continued to cultivate my awareness of health care careers. After high school, I considered medical school and other options, but came back to my original inspiration, nursing. Facing similar challenges that many students today face, it was a blessing for me to be introduced to the Nursing Recruitment Coalition (NRC) led by Kathy Mayle, now Dean of Nursing at CCAC. The NRC provided me financial support for my books, as well as, professional and leadership development, which I believe, strengthened my foundation as a registered nurse. As my entry into the nursing profession, I went on to receive a diploma from West Penn Hospital School of Nursing.

Today, over 25 years later, having successfully attained my Doctor of Nursing degree from University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and being the first African American Nurse appointed to a Chief Nursing Officer role at UPMC, I often reflect on my humble beginnings. I believe that I am living my purpose, which is to assist others to be the best they can be. So many people I know and ones I never met have assisted me to get where I am today. Black History month is a time for us to remember and formally recognize these individuals. I desire my life to be a positive reflection of the achievements of African Americans. I am honored to serve as the current President of the Pittsburgh Black Nurses in Action because so many great trailblazers surround me. Our members are making a positive difference in our community. So my question to you is what are you doing to uplift our community and how are you planning on leaving a positive legacy for our next generation?

Mildred Jones, PhD, CS, RN

My nursing career spans over 40 years and includes roles as a clinician, educator, researcher and administrator. I sometimes say God led me on a progressive and purposeful journey in my nursing career from a nurse aide to a LPN, BSN, MSN, PhD and now President of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, District 6. In each of these roles I gained knowledge and experiences that prepared me for the next level. As an LPN in a critical care unit, I had the opportunity to provide nursing care for the first heart transplant patient at UPMC. While caring for this patient, I wrote notes on the care of the transplant patient, not realizing that one day I would use that knowledge to educate baccalaureate nursing students in the care of all transplant patients including heart, lung, kidney and liver. I also had the opportunity to mentor and tutor minority nursing students through the Nursing Recruitment Coalition. There was no greater fulfillment than to see these students from various nursing programs graduate and become registered nurses. These experiences motivated me to seek higher education to become an Advanced Practice Nurse as a Pulmonary Clinical Specialist. The extraordinary journey continued as I became interested in research on cardiovascular and geriatric nursing, quality of life of patients and caregivers and minority health. My research was funded by the NIH, NIA, NINR and the American Lung Association, published in nursing and medical journals, presented nationally and internationally, and received various awards. One of my most exciting and rewarding experiences was to be able to travel to Jamaica and present it to other researchers, educators and nursing students in the Caribbean Islands. The journey yet continues today as I function in the role of the President of PSNA District 6 responsible for the continuing education and development of professional nurses in nine counties. I have also used the knowledge and skills that God gave me to care for not only the physical health of my patients but also their spiritual health as a Parish Nurse. Though I have obtained several accomplishments on my journey, I could not have achieved them without the outstanding nursing students who helped me to grow, the colleagues who collaborated with me, the exemplary mentor who taught and encouraged me, and the loving family who supported me.

As African American nurses we have a rich legacy of lay and professional nurses that include such great pioneers as Mary Seacole (served in the Crimean War with Florence Nightingale), Sojourner Truth, & Harriet Tubman ( Civil War), Mary Eliza Mahoney ( first AA professional nurse), Susie Taylor ( served with Clara Barton), Honorable Eddie Johnson (first nurse elected to US Congress), Vernice Ferguson ( President of Sigma Theta Tau International), Mary Carnegie (nurse historian), Adena Davis ( first AA graduate of the University Of Pittsburgh SON), and many, many more. These great nurses paved the way for you and me. Now we have a new generation of nurses that must continue the legacy of minority nurses. They all faced similar challenges and obstacles that you and I face today. My journey was not easy as a minority nurse. There were instructors that told me I would not make it, and I am sure some of you have heard the same thing. My advice to you is to first know who you are and your goal. You are 'fearfully and wonderfully made" and "you can do all things through Christ". Don't become discouraged by negative comments, but instead take the positive attitude "Yes I Can". Push past the pain. Focus your time and energy on studying. Seek opportunities to gain more knowledge and experience. Seek a mentor and tutor. There are nurses in the Black Nurses Association that can help you. Join together with your peers because united we stand. You must Keep Your Eye on the Prize!
Dr. Mildred Jones received a BSN from Carlow University, MSN from the University of Pittsburgh (Pulmonary Clinical Specialist), and PhD in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh. She was an Associate Professor at Carlow University School of Nursing. Presently she is Professor Emeritus of Carlow University. 

A Bright Future

The next generation of African American will add to our storied past and present. They will excel because they will be able to stand upon the shoulders of amazing nurses who have paved the way. We must remind new nurses of the story of Seacole, Tubman, Brown, and Nichols. Within the Pittsburgh community, we should tout the accomplishments of local nurses listed by our guest blogger. A symbol of Black History, the sankofa bird, teaches us we need to remember our roots in order to move forward. As February ends, remember to share our legacy with new African American nurses. Lest we forget.


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