Ellen Broe

Last updated
Ellen Johanne Broe
Ellen Johanne Broe.jpg
Born(1900-02-11)11 February 1900
Horsens, Denmark
Died1 September 1994(1994-09-01) (aged 94)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Other namesEllen Broe
Known forpioneer in nursing education in Denmark and internationally

Ellen Johanne Broe (19001994) was a Danish nurse who spent several decades working and seeking education abroad before returning to Denmark and helping to establish educational and training initiatives in Denmark. She helped draft minimum curriculum requirements for nursing students, as well as continuing education guidelines. She was active in the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and sought to find ways to bring nursing education to developing areas most in need of trained nursing staff. She received the Florence Nightingale Medal in 1961 for her contributions to nursing excellence.

International Council of Nurses

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations. It was founded in 1899 and was the first international organization for health care professionals. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Florence Nightingale Medal Red Cross award

At the Eighth International Conference of Red Cross Societies in London in 1907, the assembled delegates decided to create a commemorative International Nightingale Medal to be awarded to those distinguished in the nursing field. Subsequently, the Florence Nightingale Medal was instituted in 1912 by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve and is awarded to nurses or nursing aides for "exceptional courage and devotion to the wounded, sick or disabled or to civilian victims of a conflict or disaster" or "exemplary services or a creative and pioneering spirit in the areas of public health or nursing education".


Early life

Ellen Johanne Broe was born on 11 February 1900, in Horsens, Denmark, to Anna (née Raahauge) and Peter Johannes Broe. [1] She was the youngest child in the family, which had three daughters. Her father was a pastor at the local prison. [2] She completed her secondary education at Horsens State School in 1916. [1] Then, because she wanted to travel and she saw nursing as a way to do that, Broe enrolled in a student nursing program at Bispebjerg Hospital in 1919, but was rejected by Charlotte Munck, the head of the program, because she was too young. Broe moved to England, where she had a sister living with her English spouse and remained until 1921, when she was accepted into the program at Bispebjerg now that she was almost 22, the minimum age for admission. She competed her training in 1924. [3]

Horsens Place in Mid Jutland, Denmark

Horsens is a city on the east coast of Jutland region of Denmark. It is the seat of the Horsens municipality. The city's population is 58.646 (2018) and the municipality's population is 87,736, making it the 8th largest city in Denmark.

Bispebjerg Hospital is one of the hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark. Along with a number of other hospitals and the University of Copenhagen, Bispebjerg Hospital forms part of the Copenhagen University Hospital.

Charlotte Munck (nurse) Danish nurse and educator

Laura Charlotte Munck (1876–1932) was a pioneering Danish nurse who is remembered for her influential role in The Danish Nurses' Organization, a trade union, and for her contributions to nurses training in Denmark, especially the training programme she established at Bispebjerg Hospital in 1913.


Broe began her career at Otto Møller's Birth Clinic but, encouraged by Munck, she shortly afterwards took a job as a private nurse with an English family who lived in Morocco. She then worked as a private nurse in Paris and later in the Netherlands. [2] In 1930, she studied and worked at the East Harlem Nursing and Health Service [1] and New York City's Presbyterian Hospital, [3] but had to return to Denmark to care for her father who was ailing. [2] She became head of the Hald Sanatorium  [ da ] briefly and then began working at the Central Tuberculosis Center in Copenhagen. [1] In 1933, Broe became the head nurse at Sundby Hospotal, which had just opened in the Copenhagen district of Sundby, serving there until 1938. During her tenure she helped establish a continuing education curriculum for nurses to help reduce infant mortality. The work was influential [3] and allowed her to take a leave of absence and study nursing organization and administration at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City during the 1936-1937 term, [1] along with Elisabeth Larsen and Ellen Margrethe Schrøder. The curriculum also spurred the adoption of legislation in 1937, titled the Law on Control of Morbidity and Mortality to establish standards. The National Board of Health created guidelines for teaching nurses at Aarhus University, the leading trainer of nurses until the Danish Nursing School opened in 1938. [3]

Morocco Country in North Africa

Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country located in the Maghreb region of North West Africa with an area of 710,850 km2 (274,460 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, the largest city Casablanca. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Morocco claims the areas of Ceuta, Melilla and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, all of them under Spanish jurisdiction.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and in the U.S. state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Presbyterian Hospital (New York City) former Manhattan hospital

Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, New York City, was founded by James Lenox in 1868, and began operations in 1872. It was originally located between East 70th and 71st Streets and Madison and Fourth Avenues, and expanded continuously throughout the late 19th century, adding an outpatient dispensary in 1888, a school of nursing in 1892, and additional beds and services in 1892, 1893, 1904 and 1912.

Simultaneously, Broe became involved with the Danish Nurses Organisation (Danish : Dansk Sygeplejeråd (DSR)). Between 1934 and 1935, she served on the Committee for Additional Training and from 1934 to 1950, worked among others on the Building Committee. From 1938, Broe served on DSR's Teaching Committee and was its chair between 1943 and 1946. The committee task was to propose minimum curriculum for nursing students along with basic educational prerequisites. [2] When Broe returned from study in New York in 1938, she was hired as training manager for the new program offered at Aarhus University to train nurses and senior nurses. It was a twelve-year appointment, marked with three sabbaticals. [1] Broe joined the Danish Florence Nightingale Committee and the Nurses' Cooperative of Nordic Countries (Danish : Sygeplejerskers Samarbejde i Norden (SSN)) in 1940 and increasingly sought international cooperation in developing nursing standards. [2] Between April and May 1945, Broe worked at the Padborg Quarantine Station set up by the Danish Red Cross. [1] The rescue mission was an evacuation of sick prisoners from the Neuengamme concentration camp in Sweden to Denmark. [4] After arriving at one of three quarantine stations, the prisoners were bathed, fed, hydrated and given basic medical aid. [5] After a night of stabilization, all evacuees proceed to Sweden where their care continued until Germany‘s unconditional surrender. [6] In 1947, Broe joined the International Council of Nurses (ICN) [2] and took a leave to study abroad, first at Columbia's Teachers College again and then at the University of Toronto. She went abroad again to study in 1950 at the University of Chicago. [1]

Danish language North Germanic language spoken in Denmark

Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in Denmark and in the region of Southern Schleswig in northern Germany, where it has minority language status. Also, minor Danish-speaking communities are found in Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. Due to immigration and language shift in urban areas, around 15–20% of the population of Greenland speak Danish as their first language.

A sabbatical is a rest or break from work.

Padborg is a Danish border town with a population of 4,455 located on the border with Germany. It is the location where both the E45 motorway, a railway and the historic Danish Army Road, hærvejen, cross the border. Located a few kilometres northwest of Schleswig's historic commercial centre, Flensburg, Padborg was a small settlement when the region returned to Danish rule in 1920 following a plebiscite, but grew rapidly in size after the establishment of the current border. It is a transport centre and railway town. When the border was established in 1920, the originally planned border line was moved c. 200 metres south of Padborg in order to allow construction of the railway station and a customs office. Padborg is well known in Denmark for its motorsport ring, Padborg Park, and the head offices of the large discount chain Fleggaard.

In 1951, Broe was appointed as director of the ICN's Education Department at the Florence Nightingale International Foundation (FNIF) of London. Under her direction, the FNIF prepared reports on the range of nursing education at various levels. [3] She visited numerous countries to study their systems and provided advice to enhance their training of nurses, as well as participating in negotiations with authorities. Her travels led her to Australia, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan and several European countries. She spearheaded planning and led two international conferences in nursing research: the Sèvres, France, conference of 1956 and the New Delhi, India, conference in 1960. [1] The goal of her work was to guide international nursing organizations to enhance training and education, especially in developing nations. [3] Her work was recognized when she was honored with the Florence Nightingale Medal in 1961. [7]

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Sèvres Commune in Île-de-France, France

Sèvres is a commune in the southwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 9.9 kilometres from the centre of Paris and is in the department of Hauts-de-Seine in the region of Île-de-France.

New Delhi Capital City / District/Aerotropolis in Delhi, India

New Delhi is an urban district of Delhi which serves as the capital of India and seat of all three branches of the Government of India.

In 1962, Broe resigned from the ICN and returned to Denmark for a rest. Beginning in 1963, she became a nursing consultant for the Danish Red Cross and led an effort to recruit staff for a Danish hospital which was being built in Zaire. She retired in 1971 and received the Pro Humanitate Medal from the organization. [3] In her retirement, Broe helped found the Senior Association for Nurses, which joined the DSR in 1982. [2]

Zaire country in Africa now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Zaire, officially the Republic of Zaire, was the name of a sovereign state between 1971 and 1997 in Central Africa that is now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country was a one-party totalitarian dictatorship, run by Mobutu Sese Seko and his ruling Popular Movement of the Revolution party. Zaire was established following Mobutu's seizure of power in a military coup in 1965, following five years of political upheaval following independence known as the Congo Crisis. Zaire had a strongly centralist constitution, and foreign assets were nationalised. The period is sometimes referred to as the Second Congolese Republic.

Legacy and death

Broe died on 1 September 1994 at the Liobasøstrenes Nursing Home in Copenhagen. [2] In addition to publishing a large number of articles in both Danish and international journals on nursing education and research, Broe wrote a textbook on Nursing History and its development. [1]


In addition to numerous contributions to journals and other works, [8] Broe published two books:

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  • Kru, M. (1979). "Ellen Broe". Den Store Dansk (in Danish). Copenhagen, Denmark: Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, 3 ed. (Danish Biographical Encyclopedia). Archived from the original on 14 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  • Malchau, Susanne (2003). "Ellen Broe (1900 - 1994)". KVinfo (in Danish). Copenhagen, Denmark: Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon. Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  • "Eighteenth Award of the Florence Nightingale Medal" (PDF). International Review of the Red Cross. Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross. 2nd year (14): 239–263. May 1962. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  • "Ellen Johanne Broe (1900-1994)". Dansk Sygeplejehistorisk Museum (Danish Museum of Nursing History) (in Danish). Copenhagen, Denmark: Dansk Sygeplejeråd (Danish Nurses Association). 2016. Archived from the original on 14 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  • "Evacuating Prisoners to Denmark and Sweden" (PDF). Offenes-archiv Germany. Hamburg, Germany: Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial Open Archive. n.d. Retrieved 15 September 2016.