Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde
Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde was born in Panama in 1920 and arrived in the United States in 1945. She received her nursing diploma from the Medical and Surgical Hospital School of Nursing in 1948. She began her nursing career in San Antonio, Texas, but found few Hispanic nurses to serve the community. She went on to earn an undergraduate degree in psychiatric mental health nursing from Columbia University in 1953. She joined Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, where she worked with traumatized Puerto Rican soldiers from the Korean War diagnosed with ‘Puerto Rican syndrome.’ She was then recruited to Wayne County General Hospital’s Psychiatric Division in Michigan before returning to New York to open Elmhurst General Hospital’s first psychiatric division in Queens.

Photo Source New York Academy of Medicine

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde continued her education by earning a Masters and Doctorate from New York University, where she became the first Hispanic nurse awarded a PhD in 1971. Her dissertation, written on a type-writer as was customary at that time, was on the relationship between Puerto Rican mother-son interpersonal compatibility. She became a reviewer of federal research and education grants in Washington, D.C. and again found a lack of Hispanic nurses in academia, research, or policy settings who could advise lawmakers on health care concerns of Hispanic communities.

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde

During her career, Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde held roles as Dean and Professor Emeritus of Nursing at the State University of New York School of Nursing in Brooklyn and Associate Dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Washington in Seattle. Among her honors, she was named as a permanent representative to UNICEF, appointed by New York City Mayor David Dinkins to a commission on the quality of care at New York City hospitals, served as a psychiatric consultant to the Guatemalan government by the World Health Organization where she established a pilot program to train personnel in psychiatric care, was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing, and most recently, was celebrated by Google.

Photo Source New York Academy of Medicine

Throughout her career, Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde was also a prolific author who contributed to the literature on the Hispanic experience. Select research and articles include: The Addict as an Inpatient in 1963, Family Life Among Mainland Puerto Ricans in New York City Slums in 1976, Cultural Sensitivity in the Care of the Hispanic Patient in 1979, Chicano Aging and Mental Health in 1983, and Cultural Perspectives in Family Therapy in 1985.

Founding of NAHN

Hispanic nurse members of the American Nurses Association (ANA), including Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, initially met during the ANA Convention in Atlantic City in 1974 with the intent to establish a Hispanic Nurses Caucus to better meet the needs of Hispanic nurses within the ANA, but were rejected by the leadership at that time. By the following conference in San Francisco in 1976, it was decided to create their own National Association of Spanish-Speaking Spanish-Surnamed Nurses (NASSSN) with Dr. Murillo-Rohde serving as first president and incorporating the NASSSN. In 1979 their name was changed to the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and the organization launched their bilingual professional peer reviewed publication, Hispanic Health Care International, in 2002.

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde

Additional early members of the NAHN included (but are not limited to):

  • Hector Hugo Gonzalez (Texas), a captain in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and the first Mexican-American RN in the U.S. to have a doctorate.
  • Henrietta Villaescusa (California), the first Hispanic nurse in the U.S. to serve as as a Public Health Supervisor
  • Mimi Gonzalez (New York)
  • Janie Menchaca Wilson (Texas)
  • Mary Lou de Leon Siantz (California)
  • Eloisa Tamez (Texas)
  • and Esther Coto-Walloch (California)

Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde

Today NAHN includes 47 local chapters and “represents the voices of Latino nurses in our country. NAHN and its chapters are committed to advancing the health in Hispanic communities and to lead, promote and advocate for educational, professional, and leadership opportunities for Hispanic nurses.” One day shy of her ninetieth birthday, Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde died on September 5, 2010 in Panama.


We sourced the above information from NAHN, Wikipedia, and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Please submit any additional sources or information to us to add via social media or email us at [email protected]

Learn More

To learn more about inclusion in nursing and be part of the national discussion to address racism in nursing, check out and share the following resources:

Know Your History

  • Nursing CLIO to engage with historians and scholars committed to deep work around historical accuracy in healthcare and nursing.
  • American Association for the History of Nursing to attend monthly webinars on topics of nursing history, view the calendar here.

Examine Bias

  • NurseManifest offers live zoom sessions with fellow nurses on nursing’s overdue reckoning on racism and a page to sign their pledge.
  • Breaking Bias in Healthcare is an online course created by scientist Anu Gupta, to learn how bias is related to our brain’s neurobiology and can be mitigated with mindfulness.
  • Revolutionary Love Learning Hub provides free tools for learners and educators to use love as fuel towards ourselves, our opponents, and to others so that we can embody a world where we see no strangers.

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