AAHN Mourns the Loss of Dr. Barbara Brodie

Dear Friends, 

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Dr. Barbara Brodie passed away on Feb. 9, 2023. Dr. Brodie enjoyed a long and prolific career in nursing and made significant strides in so many areas—the nurse practitioner movement, pediatrics, graduate nursing education, and nursing history—that she was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing. 

In the classroom and in clinical settings, Dr. Brodie touched the lives of hundreds of students. Many whom she mentored have gone on to influence nursing education and practice, and to hold leadership positions throughout nursing and health care.   

Dr. Brodie was a leading figure in nursing history. At UVA, she made nursing history an integral component of the PhD program, which she helped establish and directed from 1985 to 1991. She developed and taught a doctoral-level course in nursing history that every nursing PhD student was required to take. She also incorporated historical knowledge about nursing in both masters and undergraduate programs.  

In the words of Dr. Brodie: 

Providing students the opportunity to learn of the development of modern nursing intellectually excites them. It also broadens their understanding of the social, political, and medical factors that forged todays health care system and the role of professional nursing.” (Windows in Time, December 1997)  

The study of nursing history helps us to understand that some problems do not easily disappear and that solutions devised by one generation may cause new challenges for future generations. It also teaches us that change is constant and every generation of nurse must face challenges that demand resolution. How we will re-design nursing for the 21st century will, in many ways, depend on how carefully we learn from the past.” (Windows in Time, February 1997) 

Dr. Brodie was founding director of the UVA School of Nursings Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry, serving as its director from 1992 until 2002. Even after retiring from her faculty position in 2003, Dr. Brodie continued serving as the centers associate director until 2015, during which she also held the title of Madge M. Jones Professor of Nursing Emerita.  

The idea for the center grew out of Dr. Brodies nursing history course. To move from idea to implementation, Dr. Brodie cultivated the financial support and necessary institutional backing from the School of Nursings dean, and in November 1992, the center opened in McLeod Hall. From there, Dr. Brodie, together with several of her PhD students, continued fundraising for the center and began the work of collecting and building a repository of primary sources, promoting research in nursing history, disseminating nursing history through the centers newsletter, Windows in Time,and the Agnes Dillon Randolph International Nursing History Conference, and training new generations of nurse historians. Today, the Bjoring Center is one of Dr. Brodie’s legacies; it is one of the foremost centers in the world dedicated to the history of nursing and health care and it is one of only two endowed nursing history centers in the U.S. 

Beyond UVA, Dr. Brodie helped found the American Association of the History of Nursing in 1981 and served as its president from 1990 to 1992. Its first conference was held at UVA in 1984 at her instigation. Through her efforts and collaboration with other historians, the AAHN launched the scholarly journal Nursing History Review in 1993. Dr. Brodie also spearheaded the establishment of the AAHNs research awards program.  

Dr. Brodie was also a pioneer in the nurse practitioner movement. After joining the UVA School of Nursing faculty in 1970, Dr. Brodie quickly made her mark, establishing the first graduate-level Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program in Virginia—and in the South—in 1972. Dr. Brodie then led the development and expansion of the Emergency, Adult, and Family Nurse Practitioner programs. She also obtained federal funding to implement a program at UVA that prepared faculty from other universities interested in becoming nurse practitioners. Her legislative prowess led to changes in Virginia law that gave nurse practitioners the ability to practice more independently and to have prescriptive authority. Through her pioneering efforts and leadership, Dr. Brodie helped educate and train scores of nurse practitioners and played an instrumental role in the development and expansion of nurse practitioner education throughout Virginia and beyond.  

Dr. Brodie published numerous articles and two books on nursing history, including Mr. Jeffersons Nurses: The History of the University of Virginia School of Nursing, 1901-2001 and The Voice of Professional Nursing Education: A 40-Year History of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which she co-authored with Arlene Keeling and John Kirchgessner. 

Throughout her career, Dr. Brodie received numerous awards and accolades, including her induction into the American Academy of Nursing in 1990 and a Distinguished Professor Award from the UVA Alumni Association in 2002. In recognition of the incredible impact she had on her students, in 1988, a group of former students established an endowment in Dr. Brodies name. Since that time, the Friends of Brodie” has raised more than $830,000 and distributed more than $500,000 in scholarship support to nurse practitioner and doctoral students.  

Dr. Brodie had a tremendous impact on the lives of so many students, friends, and colleagues, and on the discipline of nursing and the field of nursing history. She will be much missed. A funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 at 2 p.m. at St Thomas Aquinas University Parish Church (401 Alderman Rd., Charlottesville, Va.), which will be preceded by a visitation at the church at 1 p.m. Those wishing to make a gift in her memory may do so online at this link or by mail, noting that the gift is to support the Brodie Faculty Fund (#21043). Mailed donations may be sent to UVA School of Nursing, P.O. Box 800826, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0826. 

The School of Nursing is planning a celebration of Dr. Brodie’s life this spring and we will share those details when they become available. 


Dominique Tobbell, PhD 
Centennial Distinguished Professor of Nursing 
Director, Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry