Inspired by a young nurse in her hometown of Donegal, Ireland, Brighid O’Donnell Kelly has never strayed from her dream of pursuing and practicing health care. She became a registered general nurse from the Eastern District Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1960 and a certified midwives board from the North Middlesex Hospital in London, England, in 1961, and she was off. Dr. Kelly served as an assistant head nurse at Cornell Medical Center from 1961 to 1964, a staff nurse at Bethesda North Hospital from 1972 to 1977, an instructor at Thomas More College from 1977 to 1980, and an instructor, assistant professor, and associate professor at the University of Cincinnati between 1980 and 1993. Her last role before retirement was associate professor of nursing at Emory University, where she stayed from 1993 to 2001. Over the course of her career, she furthered her academic and professional standing by earning a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Science in nursing from Wright State University, and a PhD in higher education from Ohio State University. Her expertise lies in community health nursing and graduate research courses.
One of the highlights of Dr. Kelly’s journey was being published. She most recently contributed articles like “Preserving moral integrity: A follow-up study with new graduate nurses” and “Hospital nursing: It’s a battle,” to the Journal of Advanced Nursing. Other notable articles include “Ethical hospital nursing as perceived by British and American undergraduates” in Social Sciences in Health: International Journal of Research and Practice, “Invest in yourself: Speaking up-A moral obligation” in Nursing Forum, “Storytelling: It’s the connection” in Nursing Connections, and Professional self-concepts of senior nursing students and their perceptions of influential forces” in the Journal of Nursing Education. She also wrote chapters for books.As a testament to her hard work and dedication, Dr. Kelly was awarded $10,000 for Advocacy for Children from the Emory University Teaching Fund in 1998 and a grant from the Rabinowitz Nursing Research Fund in 1989. She was also honored with the Alumni Appreciation Award from the College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati in 1987, the Brodie Doctoral Award from the University of Cincinnati in 1980, and a gold medal from the Eastern District Hospital in Scotland in 1960, as well as with an award for her project, “Holistic Prenatal Assessment: A videotape,” through the Strengthening Developing Institutions Program at the University of Cincinnati, and with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. Her achievements were highlighted in two editions of Who’s Who in American Nursing.
Although Dr. Kelly is now retired, she remains involved in her community by volunteering at a local nursing home. She goes every Tuesday when the priest isn’t there to give out Holy Eucharist to the patients. Additionally, she maintains affiliation with the American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau, and Phi Kappa Phi.