Nursing professor Bonnie Bullough, whose groundbreaking sex research and advocacy for nurse practitioners won her international recognition, died April 12 of pulmonary disease. She was 69.
During a distinguished career that spanned several decades, Bullough authored more than 30 books and 100 articles on nursing, sociology and human sexuality, often in collaboration with her husband, Vern Bullough.
She was perhaps best known for her advocacy on behalf of nurse practitioners. Bullough was instrumental in boosting the profession’s authority nationwide in making decisions about treating patients, according to Adele Pillitteri, chair of nursing. She also helped elevate the level of nurse practitioner education at a time when many programs were being created almost as an afterthought.
“Nurse practitioner programs were tiny little add-ons,” Pilliettri said. “Bonnie was one of the people who said ‘No, no, no. These people are taking tremendous responsibilities and they need to have more education behind them.’ She really helped define what their role would be.”
Born in Delta, Utah in 1927, Bullough served as a cadet nurse at the end of World War II. She married Vern Bullough in 1947 and received her nursing diploma soon after. In 1962, she completed a master’s degree in nursing at UCLA; subsequently, she also received a master’s and a doctoratal degree in sociology.
On faculty at UCLA and Cal. State-Long Beach until 1979, she climbed from sociology instructor to professor of nursing, chair of primary care and coordinator of the graduate nursing program. During that time, she guided the creation of a curriculum for nurse practitioners and advised other schools nationwide in setting up their programs.
From 1980 to 1993, Bullough served as a professor and dean of nursing at State University of New York, Buffalo. She also worked part-time as a nurse practitioner for Health Care Plan and Planned Parenthood, as her interest in contraception, sexuality and population issues grew.
Bullough joined USC’s faculty in 1993; two years later, she shared the Kinsey Award for Research on Human Sexuality with her husband.
Bullough’s many books include: Cross Dressing, Sex and Gender; Women and Prostitution, A Social History; Contraception: A Guide to Birth Control Methods; Nursing in the Community; Nursing Issues for the Nineties and Beyond; and Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia.
As a child, Bullough suffered serious burn injuries and spent many years in the hospital. This experience, according to her husband, shaped her approach to nursing.
“She always wanted to do more for patients and clients,” he said. “She was energetic, yet calm and supportive. She was also very modest, so a lot of people never knew what she accomplished.”u0000
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