Brigadier General Hazel Johnson-Brown

Brigadier General Hazel Johnson-Brown
Nurses Week Spotlight - Biography

Brigadier General Hazel Johnson-Brown was born on October 10, 1927, in West Chester, Pennsylvania as Hazel Johnson. She became interested in nursing at a young age and applied to nursing school when she became an adult. However, her application to Chester County Hospital School of Nursing was denied because she was black.

In 2004 Johnson-Brown told National Public Radio, “The director of nursing met us [Johnson-Brown and her sister] and said to her and myself, ‘We’ve never had a black person in our program, and we never will.’”

Johnson-Brown then applied and was admitted to the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing, where she earned her nursing diploma in 1950. After graduation Johnson-Brown first worked at the Harlem Hospital emergency ward as a staff nurse.

In 1955 she enlisted in the U.S. Army, just seven years after President Harry Truman eliminated segregation in the military. Johnson-Brown served in locations across the globe and trained nurses on their way to Vietnam.

Johnson-Brown was also scheduled to go to Vietnam but fell ill. The nurse who took her place was killed in a surprise attack along with others in that unit. Johnson-Brown went on to earn her degree in nursing from Villanova University in 1959, a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1963 and a doctorate in educational administration from Catholic University in 1978.

From 1976 to 1978 Johnson-Brown served as Director of Nursing at Walter Reed Army Institute for Nursing (WRAIN). Then in 1979, after 24 years of distinguished service, Johnson-Brown was simultaneously promoted to brigadier general and chief of the Army Nurse Corps, becoming the first black woman to hold both positions.

As Chief of the Army Nurse Corps Johnson-Brown was responsible for 7,000 nurses in the Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserves. Under her leadership the Corps issued Standards of Nursing Practice for all Army hospitals and created a hospital-based nursing alternative to summer Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) camp.

As Chief of the Army Nurse Corps Johnson-Brown was responsible for 7,000 nurses in the Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserves. Under her leadership the Corps issued Standards of Nursing Practice for all Army hospitals and created a hospital-based nursing alternative to summer Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) camp.

Regarding her promotion Johnson-Brown is quoted as saying, "Race is an incidence of birth" adding "I hope the criterion for selection did not include race but competence".

Over the course of her military career Johnson-Brown won many medals including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. She was also named Army nurse of the year twice.

In 1983 Johnson-Brown retired from the U.S. Army. In 1984 she received the Candace Award from the National Coalition of Black Women, and she was selected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. After her retirement from the military, Johnson-Brown kept busy in a variety of civilian jobs.

She worked in the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) government relations unit. She worked at George Mason University's Center for Health Policy as an assistant professor, then later as a professor and contributed to the founding of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at the university.

Johnson-Brown also served as a member of the Board of Trustees at her alma mater Villanova University and the university’s College of Nursing established an award in her name.

The Hazel Johnson Leadership Award has been presented annually at Convocation ever since.

Johnson-Brown died on August 5, 2011, from complications relating to Alzheimer's disease. She was 83. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Johnson-Brown leaves behind a legacy of leadership in both military and civilian life that continues to this day.

References
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazel_Johnson-Brown#cite_note-6
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/hazel-johnson-brown-pio…
https://nursing.jnj.com/advancing-culturally-competent-care/african-ame…
https://www1.villanova.edu/content/dam/villanova/nursing/documents/news… (Villanova Nursing, Vol. 25 No. 2 Spring 2006)

Please visit the Help Center with any questions you may have about Publications.

Help Center

 

Join AMSN Today

Med-Surg Monitoring

Months

Topics