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Prof. Dr. Dr. Edith Kellnhauser: 1933 – 2019
An inspiration and pioneer in nursing
Edith Kellnhauser (1933 – 2019) initially completed her nursing training in Munich. She then moved to London for 2 years and studied to become a Registered Nurse. At the end of the 1950s she moved to the US and worked and lived there for 25 years. During this period, she undertook a 3-year residency in Egypt before returning to the States.
After an overseas nursing career spanning almost 30 years, and having achieved BSc and MSc degrees in the States, she returned to Germany in the mid 1980s where she completed her PhD. She was awarded a professorship and became dean of the faculty of Nursing Management at the Catholic University of Mainz. Edith worked until 1999, when she ‘retired’ from her official posts.
However, Edith never really retired from the world of nursing. She always had a vision, which she continued to pursue for the rest of her life. She wanted German nursing to become professionalised through nursing councils, to be strengthened by academic study, and, if possible, for nurses to have their own union. She always fought for nurses’ rights and was heavily involved in the implementation of the first nursing council in her home county of Rheinlandpfalz in 2016 where she became one its founding members.
Edith acquired many awards throughout her life – most notably the German Bundesverdienstkreuz in 2017 (top picture) and the German nursing award in 2019.
My personal experience with Edith
Edith contacted me shortly after I founded English for Nurses Ltd. She had read an article about my work in England, which I was using as a foundation for teaching within Europe. From day one, we had a special connection and understood each other as two overseas nurses. She related to my way of thinking as a German nurse who had left her home country almost 20 years ago. Many, many times we greatly enjoyed exchanging our thoughts and ideas. Edith visited me in Bristol on a number of occasions where I had pleasure of welcoming her into my private and professional life.
For Edith, nothing was too big or impossible to achieve. The phrase ‘cannot’ did not exist for her. Her perspective was always optimistic, not only professionally, but for her private life too. She taught me that if you want to change the situation, regulations and culture in nursing you must have patience. Through her hard work and ‘never-give-up-on-nurses’ attitude, she became a role model for how to achieve your goals.
For me, Edith was a professional mentor as well as personal guide. With her wisdom and patience, she could move mountains.
Edith will be very sadly missed among the German and international nursing communities. I am one of many who will miss her terribly.
Prof. Dr. Dr. Edith Kellnhauser sadly passed away in 2019 at the age of 85. Pictured below are Edith and Sabine at the nurse training facilities at The University of the West of England in 2015.