Audrey Booth

Audrey Booth
NC Nursing Leader

In 1956, Audrey Booth was the first student to receive a Master of Science in Nursing Degree from a North Carolina nursing school (in Nursing Administration), the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing.

Professionally, she served as Associate Dean of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing and Director of the state-wide AHEC (Area Health Education Center) Nursing Program where she played a key role in the establishment of the Nurse Practitioner program in North Carolina. In collaboration with individuals such as Cindy Freund and Glenn Pickard, she helped to develop a common curriculum and common standards for measuring clinical competence.

Before and during her tenure as Chair of the North Carolina Board of Nursing, she effectively lobbied the North Carolina General Assembly for the passage of a bill recognizing the practice of nurse practitioners and nurse midwives. This hallmark legislation allowing advanced practice registered nurses to perform medical acts and prescribe medications was passed in 1975.

From the Tar Heel Nurse January 1975

Audrey Booth chairs Board of Nursing
Audrey Booth, Durham, has been elected chairman of the North Carolina Board of Nursing for 1975. As chairman of the Board, Miss Booth also will serve as chairman of the Subcommittee (acting jointly with the
Subcommittee of the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners) for matters concerned with nurses functioning in the expanded role.

The Audrey Booth Nursing Scholarship Fund

The Audrey Booth Nursing Scholarship Fund at UNC Chapel HIll was created by Walter Royal Davis, a native of Pasquotank County, NC, wanted to honor Audrey Booth, the first graduate of the SON's master's program (1957), for her exemplary and long-time leadership for nurses and nursing in the State of North Carolina. Ms. Booth was a former faculty member and Associate Dean in the School of Nursing.

From the Carrington Quarterly, 2005, honoring Booth as the first MSN graduate of UNC Chapel Hill

Booth’s North Carolina journey began in May 1954 when she arrived in Chapel Hill to organize the pediatric nursing staff at Memorial Hospital. She later began studies as a master’s student in the School. “As the only student in the master’s program, I was the prototype,” Booth said. “For some seminars, I could select any one I wanted from the hospital to teach me. And, I had seminars alone with Dean Kemble, too. That was quite an experience!”  Booth’s education greatly benefited UNC and her adopted state. She served the School as faculty member, including 12 years as associate dean, and she also held positions as director of statewide activities for the Area Health Education Centers program and chair of the N.C. Board of Nursing from 1975 to 1980. She has been involved at the leadership level of many statewide nursing initiatives.

Booth, A. (1977). Legal Accommodation of the Nurse Practitioner Concept: The Process in North Carolina. The Nurse Practitioner, 2(8).

Ms. Booth was inducted into the NCNA Hall of Fame in 2014

Audrey Booth, RN, MSN ’57, was the first student to receive an MSN degree from the SON. After practicing at Memorial Hospital for several years, Ms. Booth returned to the SON, where she served as Associate Dean for 12 years. During her tenure, she also served as the director of statewide activities for AHEC, the coordinator of clinical facilities, and as the first director of development for The School of Nursing Foundation, Inc. In recognition of her service to the School, she was named the first Alumna of the Year by the SON Alumni Association. A scholarship was also established in her name by Walter Royal Davis, a former member of the UNC Board of Governors. “One of her most outstanding accomplishments was the creation of the first Nurse Practitioner program in the state,” said colleagues who nominated Ms. Booth. “Audrey Booth worked with AHEC staff, the Deans of the UNC School of Nursing, School of Medicine, and School of Public Health, as well as physicians and legislators to establish the new role and training programs for Registered Nurses.”

From Ms. Booths Memorial Service

Audrey Joyce Booth

11-2-1924  -  9-29-2019

Audrey, born on a farm in Nevraska, attended a one room country school.  She went on to earn a Master's in nursing from Case Western Reserve and an MSN administration from UNC-CH.  After a few years in Nebraska she went to Hawaii becoming an expert in poliomyelitis care.  She brought expertise back to Chapel Hill as Supervisor of Maternal-  Child Health at NC Memorial Hosptial.  She joined the VA Hosptial in Durham to lead the development of a pioneering hemodialysis hemodialysis unit.

Audrey spent the next 25 years associated with UNC as Coordinator of Health Professions Development, NC Regional Medical Program, Director of Statewide Nursing Activities, NC AHEC Program, and Associate Dean of the School of Nursing.  During this time, as Chair of the Board of Nursing, she was instrumental in achieving early legislation authorizing practice for Nurse Practitioners.

Officially retired in 1985, Audrey eagerly adopted environmental causes, raising funds for the New Hope Audubon Society, and serving six years on the Board of the Triangle Land Conservancy., where she spearheaded a drive to raise more than 3 million dollars for the Johnston Mill Nature Preserve on New Hope Creek in Orange County.  A tributary there, feeding into New Hope Creek, was named Booth's Branch in her honor.

Audrey was a humorous and actively engaged woman throughout her life, a role model for younger family members and professional colleagues and in touch with a wide variety of people and the land that she loved.

Compiled by: 
Phoebe Pollitt