Women’s History Month, founded in 1987, celebrates women’s contributions to history and society. Female contributions are often overlooked, despite women persisting against often difficult educational and working environments. Medicine and healthcare are no exception. Here are 5 pioneers both early and modern who have played a significant role in Texas healthcare.

Hanna Kindbom is recognized for being the first nursing educator in the Lone Star state. She taught at the John Sealy Hospital Training School for Nurses in Galveston, the state’s first nursing school (1891) that would later become part of the University of Texas system, one of the first hospitals in the country to do so. Kindbom served as the school’s first Clinical Instructor of Nursing, helping to set the stage for nursing as a professional career in Texas. 

In the early 1900s, Jennie Cottle Beaty helped formalize nursing as a profession in the state. In 1907, a group of nurses that included Beaty created the Texas Graduate Nurses’ Association, and they elected Beaty as its president. She and the other members pressed the state legislature to pass the first Nurse Practicing Act (1909) to regulate professional nursing as other states had already done. The legislation shaped the early days of the profession, paving the way to what it is now. 

In later years, Billye J. Brown served as the first dean of the UT Austin School of Nursing at a time when the nursing school was growing. During her tenure (1972-1989), the undergraduate and graduate programs expanded, and she oversaw the beginning of a nursing research program. The UT Austin School of Nursing is considered to be one of the top nursing schools in the nation, due in part to the successful leadership of Brown. 

And today, we can thank Baylor University’s Jessica Peck for outstanding leadership and advocacy of the nursing profession. A highly accomplished nurse professional, Peck is a clinical professor at Baylor, and also is credentialed as a nurse practitioner and clinical nurse leader. She currently serves as the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) and is a nationally recognized expert in human trafficking. 

Finally, not to be left out is Texas trailblazer Eddie Bernice Johnson, whose contributions you can read about in this piece from February. 

If you’re inspired to learn more about careers in nursing (men welcome, of course!), Denver College of Nursing in Houston can help. Click here for more information on our BSN program or call us today at (303) 292-0015 and speak to one of our career advisors. Nursing education has come a long way since the early days, and we can thank these Texas pioneers for their contributions to the field.