Breaking Barriers

Ora Strickland

Ora Strickland with data from the Women's Health Initiative

Strickland receives first Carnegie Award

Ora Strickland is accustomed to breaking new ground. When Strickland completed her doctorate at age 28, she was among the first nurses in North Carolina and the youngest nurses in the nation to hold a PhD. At Emory, She was the first faculty member to hold the nursing school’s Independence Chair in Nursing and advised the first PhD graduate and first postdoctoral fellow.

Last fall, Strickland became the inaugural recipient of the Mary Elizabeth Carnegie Award, presented by the Southern Regional Education Board. Carnegie, a nursing educator, author, and historian, was a pioneer in breaking down racial barriers for nurses. Carnegie herself became the first black president of the American Academy of Nursing in 1978. She died in 2008 at age 91.

“The Carnegie Award recognizes a nurse leader who is a trailblazer, mentor, and advocate for diversity in nursing education and practice,” says Emory nursing Dean Linda McCauley. “We are so proud and pleased for Dr. Strickland, who embodies those qualities as a role model for our students.”

When Strickland joined the nursing school in 1989, she served on a national women’s health advisory committee that recommended ways to increase the number of research studies focusing on the health of women and minorities. One result was the Women’s Health Initiative, a 15-year national trial that studied the most common health problems of older women. Strickland served as an Emory co-investigator. She also has studied coronary heart disease in premenopausal African American women, self-care management in sickle cell patients, premenstrual syndrome, and hormone replacement therapy as a measure to prevent heart disease and colon cancer.

In 2003, Strickland was chosen to represent nurse researchers in the Aetna Black Heritage Calendar highlighting the contributions of African American registered nurses. “What I love about nursing,” she told Aetna at the time, “is no matter who we are or what we do, we make a tremendously positive impact on a multitude of people.”

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winter 2011