50 nursing luminaries profiled in new children’s book

Collage of illustrated portraits of 10 nursing leaders throughout history.

A new book sheds light on 50 innovative nurses who had significant impact on health science and nursing practice. Written by two nurses and Case Western Reserve University alumni, Mary Beth Modic, DNP, and Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, PhD, Luminaries of the Past: Stories of Fifty Extraordinary Nurses shares the the stories of 50 historical women and men in nursing from the 16th Century to the modern era.

Cover of "Luminaries of the Past" a children's book profiling 50 nurses in history.

The nurses profiled in this book changed society; they saved the lives of soldiers on the battlefield, fought for racial and social justice and revolutionized the way healthcare is delivered today. Modic and Fitzpatrick’s book invites readers to learn about the obstacles many overcame to become a nurse and the legacy they each left on the profession of nursing and the health of the world.

The authors are hosting a virtual Q&A for Case Western Reserve students, faculty and staff on Thursday, May 6, the first day of National Nurses Week. Register for the 4 p.m. event, FPB Book Club: Luminaries of the Past.

The book, originally designed to introduce middle-school aged children to the work of extraordinary nurses, is a rich resource of nursing history made possible by support from the Marian K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University.

With more than four decades of experience in nursing practice, education, consultation and research, Modic, a clinical nurse specialist, was inspired to write this book because few tell the stories of nurses.

“In middle school, students learn about famous physicians and scientists. Rarely, except for perhaps Florence Nightingale, are any nurses-whose advocacy and intellect changed the world-introduced as legendary people of note.”

For Fitzpatrick, a distinguished university professor and former dean of the nursing school, said the book isn’t solely for middle school students, but can be used as a resource for any age group interested in learning about nurses’ consequential contributions to science.

“Our book tells the remarkable life-saving stories of nurses who transformed the practice of nursing and were incredible innovators in the fields of science and health,” she said. “Nurses have, rightfully, received a lot of praise for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. But nurses have been advancing science and performing care for centuries. Nurses have always been heroes.”

Praise for the book has been received from multiple professional organizations and advocates of nursing science, research and education.

“I highly recommend this book!  What a great way for children to learn about the history of nursing,” said Ernest J. Grant, PhD, president of the American Nurses Association. “Hopefully, it will give them the courage to blaze similar trails for the nursing profession!”

Illustrated by Sarah Turner and published by Halo Publishing Company, Carol Musil, dean of the school of nursing, called the nurses featured, some of whom are well known in the nursing community and some who are not, a collection of nurses who transformed the world in sometimes unexpected ways.

“There are too few books to inspire future nurses or to tell our story,” Musil said. “This beautiful book is truly a gift.”

Current president of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, school of nursing alumna Mary Joy Garcia-Dia, DNP, said the book profiles global nurse leaders who changed the world, and captures contributions of diverse nurse leadership.

“The stories of compassion, triumphant struggles during adversities and perseverance as a change agent in the community are narratives that migrant nurses like myself can relate and aspire to emulate,” Garcia-Dia said. “What a novel process to illustrate nurses’ as superheroes with the personal true stories of 50 exemplary nurses across the globe.”

Proceeds from Luminaries of the Past: Stories of Fifty Extraordinary Nurses will provide support for current and future nurse leaders through the Marian K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy. Join virtual conversation with the authors and Cuyahoga County Public Library on Wednesday, May 12 at 7 p.m.

50 nursing luminaries profiled in new children’s book