1. Schorr, Thelma
  2. Schwarz, Thomas


Two nursing pioneers.


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She wouldn't have liked this. Sophia F. Palmer once instructed her assistant that only a simple outline of her life should be published when she died. FIGURE 1

Figure 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure 1. Sophia Palmer AJN'

Determined, forthright, and industrious, Palmer, the first editor of AJN, fought hard for state registration of nurses, nurse practice acts, and state boards to enforce these acts. In her editorials she railed at physicians and hospital administrators who tried to block nursing's efforts to set its own standards.


A graduate of the Boston Training School for Nurses (which later became the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing), Palmer, like most nurses in the late 1800s, began her career in private duty. She went on to organize training schools at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and at Garfield Memorial in Washington, DC, where she faced tremendous opposition from physicians who wanted to maintain control of nurses' education. She later moved to Rochester, New York, to reorganize City Hospital.


But nursing was ready for a journal "managed, edited, and owned by the women of the profession." In 1899, the Association of Alumnae of Trained Nurses of the United States (which became the American Nurses Association in 1911) appointed a Committee on Periodicals to consider the creation of such a publication. Palmer joined other notable nurses on this committee and prepared for her appointment as the new journal's editor-in-chief by taking a leave of absence to study journalism. Meanwhile, the other committee members raised money to launch AJN, finally forming a joint stock company and selling shares at $100 each, only to nurses. The first issue of AJN was published in October of 1900.


In 1903, Palmer saw another dream actualized when New York established a nurse registration law. In recognition of her work for this cause, she became the first president of the five-member State Board of Nurse Examiners. She wrote to Adelaide Nutting on the board's letterhead, "This is for you to see our new paper-when I am addressed as 'President Palmer,' I really feel quite grand...."


Palmer died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 23, 1920, one month before her 67th birthday. "I want as my memorial for the work that I have done," she once said, "to see before I die the Journal included in alumnae dues, as a matter of routine, and in the hands of every member of every association in this country."-Thelma Schorr



Her passion for nursing began when she was 12 years old, at a clinic for migrant farm workers. "I was amazed by this woman in a white uniform caring for me, the daughter of Latino farm workers," Aurora Hernandez recalls. Inspired, she left the sugar beet fields of the Midwest at age 19 to pursue her dream. FIGURE 2

Figure 2 - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure 2. Aurora Hernandez NSNA president

On April 15, Hernandez, age 28, was elected president of the National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA) at the organization's annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. As she ascended to this position, she graduated from Minneapolis Community and Technical College and is now at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.


Since then, Hernandez has founded the NSNA chapter at her nursing school and has become the regional director and director of communications for the Minnesota Student Nurses' Association. Yet her interests remain rooted in her culture. "I'll always provide leadership for the migrant and Latino communities," she says.-Thomas Schwarz, editorial director