The late Pearl McIver created an enduring legacy in the field of public health nursing, a journey that began when she took a position with the United States Public Health Service in 1922.
There, she served 35 years in several divisions, from the Maternal and Child Health Division to the Office of Public Health Nursing, before becoming the chief nurse in the United States Public Health Service Bureau of State Services. In this role, Ms. McIver built the foundation of public health nursing and remained active in preventing disease and promoting health and wellness.
Her dedication and knowledge of the nursing profession established nursing programs across state and local levels, which effectively employed more than 3,500 nurses during the Great Depression. Her ability to lead people to solutions and build partnerships helped strengthen the nursing profession.
Ms. McIver’s most noted leadership role in nursing was as chair of the Joint Coordinating Committee, where she paved the way for the unification of five nursing organizations into two, the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National League for Nursing.
Additionally, Ms. McIver served in leadership roles with ANA for nearly 20 years, including president of ANA from 1948 to 1950. She was a former president and editor of the American Journal of Nursing and vice president of the American Public Health Association, where she led the establishment of the Nursing Section. Additionally, McIver served as chair of the Federal Nursing Council, a member of the World Health Organization’s Expert Panel on Nursing, chair of the International Council of Nurses Constitution Committee and vice-chair of the American Nurses Foundation.
To recognize and honor Pearl McIver’s remarkable accomplishments, the first Public Health Nurse Award was bestowed upon her by ANA’s Public Health Nurses Section in 1956. This award, later renamed in her honor, recognizes the outstanding professional contribution of one public health nurse.
Ms. McIver died in 1976 at age 83; however, her immense contributions still impact the Public Health Service and the nursing profession.