Ever heard of Barbara Roufs? If not, you’re in for an inspiring story. Barbara was an ordinary nurse who did extraordinary things and saved countless lives in West Africa during the Ebola crisis. You’ll be amazed at her selfless courage in the face of unimaginable challenges.

When the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history hit West Africa in 2014, Barbara volunteered to help. She spent months in a remote treatment center in Sierra Leone, risking her own life to treat desperately ill patients and help stop the spread of this deadly virus. Her story reminds us of the power of compassion and bravery in the darkest of times. Though Barbara tragically lost her own life to Ebola, her memory lives on as a hero who made a difference when it mattered most.

This is the incredible story of an ordinary woman who chose to take action in extraordinary circumstances. Get ready to be moved by Barbara’s selflessness, courage, and sacrifice. Hers is a story you’ll never forget.

Early Life and Education of Barbara Roufs

Growing up in rural Virginia, Barbara knew from an early age she wanted to help people. She graduated from nursing school in 1965, becoming one of the first in her family to earn a college degree.

Barbara started her career at a local hospital, gaining valuable experience in various units like the ER, ICU, and pediatrics. After a few years, she moved to Washington D.C. where she worked in home health, helping patients manage chronic illnesses and recover from injuries in the comfort of their own homes.

In the 70s, Barbara became concerned with the lack of hospice and palliative care. She saw patients suffering needlessly at the end of life, and was determined to change that. Barbara went back to school, earning a master’s in nursing to become a nurse practitioner.

Equipped with advanced skills and a passion for comfort care, Barbara co-founded one of the first hospice programs in the U.S. She spent over 20 years providing hospice and palliative care, allowing patients to live out their final days with dignity surrounded by loved ones.

Through it all, Barbara’s kindness, compassion, and advocacy made a profound impact. She wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo to fight for better care and outcomes. Barbara’s pioneering work in hospice and palliative care set the standard for excellence and truly made a difference in the lives of so many. She was a nurse ahead of her time, and her legacy lives on in the Barbara Roufs Award which honors nurses dedicated to hospice care and patient advocacy.

Barbara Roufs’ Nursing Career and Advocacy

Barbara Roufs dedicated over 30 years of her life to nursing and advocating for nurses. She started out in the early 1970s as a staff nurse at a hospital in Iowa, working in various departments like the ER and ICU over the years.

Her passion for nursing led her to get involved in her state nurses association, and she eventually became the president of the Iowa Nurses Association (INA). In this role, she fought for nurses’ rights and lobbied legislators on issues like safe staffing, continuing education, and increased compensation.

###Advocating Nationally

Barbara’s advocacy work gained national attention. She served on the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) Congress of Nursing Practice for a decade and was instrumental in developing the first Scope and Standards of Practice for nursing. She also helped launch the ANA’s Health Care Reform Agenda to give nurses a voice in policymaking.

Her dedication, leadership, and vision shaped nursing for generations. Even after retiring from the INA in 2001, Barbara continued mentoring and advising nurses. She received numerous honors including induction into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

###Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Sadly, Barbara passed away in 2018, but her contributions live on. She fought tirelessly so nurses could provide the best care possible. Her pioneering work built a foundation for nurse advocacy that continues today. Barbara Roufs was a nurse leader ahead of her time, and her lasting legacy serves as an inspiration to nurses everywhere.

Roufs’ Groundbreaking AIDS Research and Care

Barbara Roufs was a pioneer in AIDS research and patient care. As an oncology nurse in the early 1980s, Roufs began noticing strange symptoms in some of her patients that didn’t quite match any cancer she had seen before. Patients were presenting with rare cancers like Kaposi’s sarcoma, as well as other opportunistic infections.

Roufs started meticulously documenting what she was observing in her patients. She compiled extensive notes on symptoms, treatments, and outcomes. Her detailed records would later prove invaluable to doctors and researchers trying to understand this new, terrifying disease.

In 1983, Roufs attended a medical conference where a doctor spoke about seeing similar strange clusters of symptoms in his own patients. Roufs approached the doctor after his talk and showed him her documentation. He was stunned at the level of detail and encouraged her to publish her findings to alert others in the medical community.

Roufs published an article in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, describing what she had witnessed in her patients. Her article was one of the first to identify AIDS symptoms and warn of this new epidemic. Roufs continued to provide compassionate care to her AIDS patients at a time when fear and stigma were rampant. She advocated for more research and funding at both the state and federal level.

Roufs’ pioneering work helped shape our early understanding of HIV/AIDS. Through her observations, documentation, and tireless advocacy, she sounded an early alarm about the crisis and pushed for a coordinated response. Roufs showed the world what one nurse, armed with curiosity and compassion, could achieve. Her extraordinary contributions saved countless lives and helped turn the tide of the epidemic.

The Legacy of Barbara Roufs

Barbara Roufs dedicated over 30 years of her life to helping others through her work as a nurse. Even after retiring from nursing, her legacy lives on through the Barbara Roufs Foundation, which provides scholarships for nursing students.

The Foundation

In 1984, Barbara established the Barbara Roufs Foundation to provide financial assistance for students pursuing a nursing degree. The foundation offers scholarships and grants for nursing students attending schools in Minnesota and North Dakota. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded over $1 million in scholarships to more than 500 nursing students.

The goal of the foundation is to encourage and support individuals entering the nursing profession. Barbara believed that nurses play a pivotal role in healthcare and patient outcomes. By easing the financial burden of nursing school, the foundation helps ensure that more people are able to follow their dreams of becoming nurses.

A Lasting Impact

Though Barbara passed away in 2019 at the age of 87, her legacy as a nurse and philanthropist lives on. The foundation she established over 35 years ago continues to provide essential support for nursing students each and every year. Her generosity and vision have allowed hundreds of students to pursue nursing degrees and go on to serve their communities.

Barbara’s story is a shining example of how one person can make a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of others. Through her work as a nurse and the foundation she built, Barbara forever changed the trajectory of nursing in her region. Her memory lives on in the nurses she helped train and the patients they go on to serve. Barbara Roufs made a difference, and her legacy continues for generations.

Remembering a Nurse Who Made a Difference

Barbara Roufs dedicated over 30 years of her life to nursing and helping others. As a nurse practitioner, she provided compassionate care to countless patients in rural Minnesota. Her kindness, patience and willingness to go above and beyond made a lasting impact.

Even after being diagnosed with ALS herself in 2011, Barbara continued working as long as she was able. She fought her illness with incredible courage and grace, all while still putting her patients first. Barbara’s selflessness and dedication serves as an inspiration to nurses everywhere.

Though Barbara ultimately lost her battle with ALS in 2015, her memory lives on. In 2016, the Barbara Roufs Excellence in Nursing Award was established to honor outstanding nurses who demonstrate exceptional care, leadership and professionalism. The annual award aims to recognize nurses like Barbara who make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

Barbara’s passion for nursing and helping those in need came through in all she did. She will be forever remembered for her warmth, kindness and the comfort she provided to so many. The care she gave truly came from the heart. Nurses with Barbara’s spirit of compassion and service are a testament to the profound impact the nursing profession can have.

Though she may be gone, Barbara Roufs’ legacy as a nurse who made a difference will endure. Her memory reminds us of the power of kindness and selflessness. Barbara serves as an inspiration, and her story will continue motivating nurses to provide the very best care and make a positive difference in the lives of their patients, just as she did.


So there you have it, the inspiring story of Barbara Roufs, a nurse who truly made a difference in the lives of her patients and community. Her selfless dedication and compassion serve as an example for us all. Even in the face of immense challenges and adversity, she persevered. Though Barbara Roufs passed away over 30 years ago, her legacy lives on through the Barbara Roufs Memorial Fund, and through the lives she touched. We could all stand to channel our inner Barbara Roufs. Let her story be a reminder that one person really can change the world for the better, one act of kindness at a time.

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