New York State Nurses Association
During her distinguished career, Eleanor C. Lambertsen made a profound and immeasurable impact on the nursing profession that has continued long after her death in 1998. An esteemed leader in nursing education in New York State, nationally, and internationally, she pioneered the concept of “team nursing,” which revolutionized the organization and delivery of nursing and health care by placing registered professional nurses in the primary interdisciplinary leadership role.
She began her nursing career in the 1930s at Overlook Hospital in New Jersey. Upon completion of her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, and serving as a faculty member, she went on to hold leadership positions at the American Hospital Association. She later returned to Teachers College as Helen Hartley Chair of the Nursing Department and director of the Division of Health Sciences. In 1970, she became dean of the Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing and in 1974, senior associate director of nursing.
A student described Lambertsen as a champion of advanced practice who was willing to stand up to the power structure with determination and grit. Her influence made it possible for generations of clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners to practice their art and science independently.
Lambertsen served the profession as president of the American Nurses Foundation, chair of the National Commission for the Study of Nursing and Education, and nursing consultant to the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare’s Report on the Study to Extend the Role of Nurses. She was proud of her work as consultant to the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) Special Committee to Study the Nurse Practice Act, which resulted in a model used throughout the nation.
Among many honors and accolades, she received the highest recognition awards of NYSNA and the American Nurses Association.