Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Remembers Innovative Leader and Service-Learning Champion Madge Donnellan

Emory NursingJanuary 13, 2017
Madge Donnellan

Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing faculty Madge Donnellan, PhD, RN, passed away January 11, 2017. Dr. Donnellan, who has served as an associate clinical professor on the School of Nursing faculty since 1988, was passionate about integrating service learning through teaching, scholarship, and practice. She spearheaded many innovative Emory university-community partnerships that fostered students’ sense of social responsibility through real-world experiences and helped advance health awareness and outcomes for patients and families throughout the region.

Dr. Donnellan was instrumental in developing the School of Nursing’s partnership with Atlanta Public Schools and in establishing the Health and Human Services Academy at Booker T. Washington High School. Through the nine-year collaboration, undergraduate and graduate nursing student mentors helped prepare high school students for careers in health care by improving students’ academic achievement and college readiness; strengthening their social support; and broadening their awareness of health care career opportunity pathways.

For years, Donnellan managed two of Emory University’s nurse-led community clinics, including a partnership with the DeKalb County Board of Health and the DeKalb County Housing Authority at the public housing development Johnson Ferry East; and another in the Williamsburg retirement community.

Donnellan also worked with the Emory Employee Assistance and Wellness Program at the Emory Well House for 10 years, offering health risk assessments and counseling on healthy lifestyles and self-management to help faculty and staff to achieve their personal health goals.

School of Nursing Faculty Elizabeth Downes, DNP, MPH, MSN, who was a masters student in the Family Nurse Practitioner program Donnellan established at University of Tennessee-Knoxville, said her caring and innovative leadership left a lasting impact on nursing education and community health.

“Dr. Donnellan valued education,” said Downes. “She was an exceptional educator and committed to health and wellness.” 

A long-time champion for nursing professionals, Donnellan was also part of the Emory University nursing and physician team that helped advance SB480 into law, giving advanced nurse practitioners in Georgia the right to write prescriptions. 

Donnellan served in many leadership positions within the School of Nursing and Emory University, including specialty coordinator for the school’s associate to master's of science of nursing (RN to MSN) and MSN/Master’s of Public Health degree programs; curriculum committee chair; director of the family nurse practitioner program; director of risk assessment and lifestyle planning for Emory’s Emory Employee Assistance and Wellness Program at the Emory Well House; and elected Faculty Convener. 

“Dr. Donnellan was deeply committed to the success of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing,” said Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “We are grateful for her leadership and her longstanding contributions to our program. She leaves a powerful legacy that will endure through our faculty, students, and alumni who had the privilege of working with her and the school’s ongoing commitment to service learning and social responsibility.”

A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Arlington Chapel in Sandy Springs. The family will receive friends from 1-3 p.m. with the service following directly after.

Memorial gifts in her name may be made to the Emory Nursing School’s Emeritus Faculty Scholarship at 1520 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322 or by calling 404-727-6917.