Dr. Barbara Leonard earned her master’s in 1965 and her Ph.D. in 1983, both from the University of Minnesota. She served as a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing at the University. Dr. Leonard founded the Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs in 1993. She retired in 2010.
Dr. Barbara Leonard begins her interview by discussing her education and her interest in public health nursing. In particular, she describes her early experiences with vaccination and her clinical rotations in college. She then reflects on her work toward a master’s degree in public health at the University of Minnesota, including her coursework, mentors, the creation of the Public Health Nurse Practitioner Program, and the changes to and restructuring of nursing programs in the School of Public Health. She also discusses the following: the impact of the Rajender Consent Decree, relations between the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing; curriculum reform within the School of Nursing; the positioning of nursing programs within the School of Public Health; the favorable economic position of the health sciences in the 1960s and 1970s; and knowledge and skills-based competition among healthcare professionals. The interview then turns toward the following topics: Lee Stauffer as dean of the School of Public Health; transitions in the scope of public health regarding prevention and healthcare delivery; relations among divisions within the School of Public Health; the leadership of Alma Sparrow; her pursuit of a Ph.D. in Healthcare Administration; and her interests in maternal and child health and particularly children with chronic disease.
Barbara Leonard attended Gustavus Adolphus College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1963. She earned her Master of Science in public health at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in 1965. Continuing with her work at the University, she served as an instructor in the Division of Public Health Nursing in the School of Public Health and as project director for the Pediatric Nursing Practitioner Program. During this same period, she pursued her Ph.D. in healthcare administration at the University, which she earned in 1983. In 1984, she became a professor in the Division of Maternal and Child Health in the School and served as division head from 1986 to 1991. When the Division was moved to the School of Nursing in 1991, Dr. Leonard became a professor within the School. In 1993, she founded the Center for Children with Special Health Care needs. She retired in 2010.