Our November HerStory recipient, Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, built her career around the idea that representation matters, and devoted herself to making space to encourage more people of hispanic descent to pursue careers in the medical field and work in hispanic communities.
Born in Panama in 1920, Dr. Murillo-Rohde came to Texas to work as a community nurse, and realized how under-represented hispanic nurses were in the hispanic community. In the 1940s, there was a distinct dearth of cultural awareness in the medical field (not that there isn’t still a huge gap in medical cultural competence now, but it was much worse then). Dr. Murillo-Rohde realized how important it is for medical providers to understand not only a patient’s medical symptoms, but also how a patient’s culture might inform their understanding of and decisions about their medical care. She spent her career uplifting and encouraging hispanic medical professionals, and founded (and served as the first president of) the National Association of Hispanic Nurses in the late 1970s.
Driven by a desire to create a world in which hispanic nurses were supported and plentiful enough for hispanic communities, Dr. Murillo-Rohde pursued degrees in psychiatric nursing, education, and administration, and was the first hispanic nurse to be awarded a PhD from New York University. She worked with the World Health Organization, the UN, AND she was even a tennis instructor! (Not at all germane to this letter, but we thought it was an interesting tidbit to add.) And at every step of her career, she was sure to work on representation and mentorship, with a focus on the concepts of community, respect, and cross-cultural competence in nursing. In 1994, she was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing.
Our November colorway, Flowers in Your Hair, is an homage to Dr. Murillo-Rohde’s penchant for wearing an orchid in her hair at nursing conferences, and we found a lovely bright green and pink orchid to inspire us. We hope that Dr. Murillo-Rohde’s story inspires you, too.