Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame

Sketch of Ruth Harrell

Ruth Harrell

Ruth Harrell is one of the most respected and beloved nurses in Alabama. Beginning her career as a staff nurse, she went on to become the director of nursing for the Alabama Department of Public Health from 1987 to 1993. In addition to serving as the president of the Alabama Public Health Association, she has also served on many government task forces and committees, studying issues from the nursing shortage to problems affecting the public health of the citizens of Alabama. She paved the way for the Alabama Advanced Practice Council to proceed with the development of a statewide Nurse Practitioner Network with one of the largest employers in the state. At the national level, she served on committees of the American Public Health Association and has been a prominent voice within the American Nurses’ Association where she is well respected by her colleagues from other states. Mrs. Harrell is a tireless warrior for nursing and for better health care for all people. Her passion for the profession has inspired countless numbers of students to go into the nursing profession. Mrs. Harrell received her diploma from St. Margaret’s Hospital School of Nursing, her B.S.N. from the Medical College of Georgia College of Nursing, and her M.P.H. from the School of Public Health at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Throughout her career, Mrs. Harrell received numerous awards, including the Lamplighter Award from the Alabama League of Nursing, the D.G. Gill Award from the Alabama Public Health Association, the Ficquett-Holley Award from the Southern Health Association, and the prestigious Ruth Freeman Distinguished Career Award from the Public Health Nursing Section of the American Public Health Association. After officially retiring from the Department of Public Health in 1993, Mrs. Harrell is still very active in her profession. She is currently the co-director of the Southern Rural Access program, a Robert Wood Johnson funded program designed to improve access to health care for rural people, and has just completed her second term as president of Alabama State Nurses’ Association. She currently chairs the Committee on Professional Practice for ASNA. In her forty years of being a nurse, Mrs. Harrell has been an inspiration to generations of nurses throughout Alabama.