From One Nurse to Many

Barbara Jury

Barbara Jury ’50 discovered her calling at an early age. When she was 7 she spent a week in the hospital recovering from an appendectomy, and she believes the experience of observing nursing in action around the clock planted the seed.

During her teen years, her father became a hospital administrator, offering Jury more opportunity to witness not only the nursing profession but the workings of the whole hospital organization from top to bottom. By the time she graduated high school in 1945, she knew that health care would be her career.

Jury became an innovator in the nursing profession, pioneering specialized procedures for premature babies and an intensive care unit for newborns (now commonly known as a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU) at California Hospital, where over a span of 46 years she served as director of nursing and as its first director of risk management.

“Risk management was the thing I loved the most,” Jury said, “because it was looking at all the issues hospital-wide and trying to improve things.”

This passion for progress and looking at the “big picture” also manifested itself in her extensive volunteer work for the greater good of society. As a member of Soroptimist International of Los Angeles, including three terms as president, she was actively involved in community activities rooted in social services. Over the years, her interactions with single mothers, battered women and the homeless afforded her the chance to see the larger issues related to environment. Looking at these problems through her nursing eyes, Jury could not help but notice how a medical component would be an asset to social work and vice versa.

“When I found out that the University of Southern California was looking at putting nursing with social work, I thought that made sense,” she said. “Because I see the need. For example, homelessness causes major health issues, but housing isn’t going to solve them all. There will still be major problems to address such as dementia, psychiatric needs, and addiction issues that will require more nurses and social workers that can work together.”

While registered nurses will always be an important part of hospital and facility care, what communities are going to need is the ability to provide more preventive care and management of chronic illnesses. There is no question in Jury’s mind that nurse practitioners are the wave of the future for the nursing profession.

She felt so strongly that the new Department of Nursing at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work was a move in the right direction that she recently made a gift to start the Barbara Jury Endowed Scholarship fund for nursing students. This is the first scholarship fund in the school for nurses who wish to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing to become family nurse practitioners.

“I think there will be more sophistication from nurses at the master’s level if they start to analyze the communities where their patients live, the frequency of their concerns, and begin to look at impact,” Jury said. “The living we’re doing is going to get more complicated.”

To make a gift to the Barbara Jury Endowed Scholarship fund, contact Kathleen Lago at 213.821.3604 or lagok@usc.edu.