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Celebrating Ildaura Murillo-Rohde for National Hispanic Heritage Month

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If you used Google today, you might’ve noticed a new Doodle devoted to the legendary Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, a longtime pillar of the healthcare community. She built her legacy around her belief that nurses need to have the cultural awareness to best care for their patients.

Murillo-Rohde took on many roles over the course of her career, but she’s perhaps best known for founding the National Association of Hispanic Nurses in 1975. Her tribute coincides with the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a weeks-long event dedicated to honoring the traditions and achievements of Hispanic Americans.

Google couldn’t’ve chosen a better candidate for this year’s Doodle. Learn Murillo-Rohde’s amazing story.

One of a Kind

A child of Panama, Murillo-Rohde was born in 1920 before emigrating to the U.S. in 1945. She began her career in nursing in the largely Hispanic neighborhoods of San Antonio, Texas.

She quickly realized that she was one of the only Hispanic nurses working in the area.

That’s when she became focused on recruiting and retaining more providers of Hispanic descent. The realization sparked her passion for learning. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in psychiatric mental health nursing at New York’s Columbia University, as well as Master and Doctorate degrees in teaching and curriculum development from New York University.

She later took a job in Washington, D.C. reviewing research and educational grants. However, the same problems she encountered in Texas followed her to the nation’s capital.

“I saw that I was the only Hispanic nurse who was going to Washington [D.C.] to work with the federal government, review research and education grants, etc.,” Murillo-Rohde once said, according to the New York Academy of Medicine. “I looked behind me and thought: ‘Where are my people?'”

Murillo-Rohde felt that the lack of diversity was a growing public health problem. She felt that all patients should have access to providers who were familiar with their cultural background. The lack of representation led her to “identify the underrepresentation of marginalized groups in the medical community as a national issue.”

She was also an active member of the American Nurses Association, but felt the organization wasn’t meeting the needs of women like her, so she founded the National Association of Hispanic Nurses in 1975.

“Dr. Murillo-Rohde dedicated her life to enhancing the quality of healthcare for underrepresented communities while equipping other Hispanic nurses with the skills to do the same,” Google said in a statement. “Murillo-Rohde set out on a lifelong mission to cultivate a nursing workforce that could best serve America’s growing Hispanic community.”

Murillo-Rohde went on to serve the academic community in several high-profile positions. She became the first Hispanic Associate Dean at the University of Washington and first Hispanic Dean at the School of Nursing at NYU.

She is also one of the few to receive the prestigious Living Legend Award from the American Academy of Nursing. She even served as a World Health Organization consultant to Guatemala.

After many years of service, she passed away in Panama in 2010, just a day shy of her 90th birthday.

A Charming Rendition

To celebrate the historic provider, Google commissioned Latinx artist Loris Lora to create a drawing for today’s Doodle featuring Murillo-Rohde in a diverse hospital setting with her signature notebook.

“Hispanic Heritage Month to me is about celebrating our culture and recognizing the contributions of those who continue to inspire future generations,” Lora told Google. “I enjoy learning about minority women who were trailblazers of their time and helped create opportunities for women who came after them. My sister recently became a nurse and I found it interesting to learn about Dr. Murillo-Rohde and the things she stood for and achieved during her lifetime.”

Lora says she hopes the drawing will spark curiosity among those that aren’t familiar with Murillo-Rohde’s story.

“I was inspired by her story and her Panamanian background,” Lora continued. “The colors on this Doodle were inspired by Latin American textiles and orchid flowers (my research found that she always wore an orchid at NAHN conferences).”

Current NAHN president Adrianna Nava also weighed in on the touching tribute. “We are deeply honored as an organization she founded to be part of her legacy as we launch Hispanic Heritage Month,” she said in an interview.

The president of the American Nurses Association, Ernest Grant, also spoke on the importance of improving diversity and representation in the healthcare workforce. “We should be representing the people we serve. Dr. Murillo-Rohde is a prime example. She celebrated and embraced her Hispanic and Latinx roots and blazed a trail for others,” he commented.

The NAHN continues her legacy with the Award for Education Excellence by a Hispanic Registered Nurse, a scholarship for Hispanic nursing students who demonstrate excellence in the field.

We’re glad to see Murillo-Rohde getting the star treatment. The Doodle is sure to bring the healthcare provider some renewed attention, considering there are close to 7 billion searches performed on Google every day. 

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. 

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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