Rhetaugh Dumas, One of the Grand Dames of Nursing Dies

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Rhetaugh Dumas, 78; One of the Grand Dames of Nursing Dies of Cancer
The nursing world has lost one of its own scholars, Rhetaugh Dumas, RN, MSN, PhD. Dr. Dumas was one of many African-American nurses to be offered membership to the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1946. From its founding in 1896, the ANA had offered membership to all qualified professional nurses regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin, and until 1916, all nurses joined ANA through their alumnae associations. Because of segregation laws at the time, black nurses in 16 southern states and the District of Columbia were denied membership on the state level, thereby precluding their membership in ANA. In 1948 the ANA House of Delegates inaugurated the Individual Membership Program, which offered direct membership and benefits in ANA to qualified nurses who were not accepted by a state or district association.

She was also a founding member and former president of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN).

Dr. Dumas career spanned teaching, clinical practice, administration, consultation, and research. She had served as chairman of the Psychiatric Nursing Program at Yale University and Director of Nursing Service at the Connecticut Mental Health Center at Yale-New Haven Medical Center. In the area of research, she is credited with being the first nurse to conduct clinical experiments to evaluate nursing practices. Not only was she in constant demand in the US and abroad for her clinical experiments, but she was also a consultant to organizations and a speaker at conventions and scientific meetings.

Before her death, two honorary doctorates were bestowed on Dr. Dumas: Doctor of Public Service by the University of Cincinnati and Doctor of Public Service by Simmons College, Boston. The numerous awards includes Distinguished Alumnae Award from Yale University, which reads, “No catalogue of her personal and professional accomplishments does justice to the power of her person, the scope of her service, or the depths of the ways she has touched the lives of others.”

Dr. Dumas dedication and grace endeared her to those that she led and continues to inspire registered nurses to reach greater heights.