Born on March 13, 1919 in New York City, Faye Glenn Abdellah earned her diploma in nursing at the age of 18. Believing that her nursing education is not enough to deliver quality nursing care to patients, she earned three degrees from Columbia University. She earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing and in 1947, her master of arts degree in physiology. Eight years after, in 1955, Faye Glenn Abdellah completed her doctorate in education.
It was Faye Glenn Abdellah who transformed the focus of the nursing profession from disease-centered to patient-centered. As a nursing educator and researcher, she endeavored to include caring for families and the elderly in the many duties and responsibilities of the professional nurse. She also advocated for continuing education in nursing, believing that a diploma in nursing isn't sufficient to prepare nurses for the rigors of the nursing profession. She was among the first nursing educators to focus on theory and research.
In 1957, Faye Glenn Abdellah headed a research team in Connecticut which successfully laid the groundwork for progressive patient care. It is through the research team's efforts that home care is now widely accepted as an essential part of long-term health care. Abdellah is recognized as the person who influenced public policy on nursing homes and it is through her efforts that standards for nursing homes has been established.
Apart from being active in nursing research and education, Faye Glenn Abdellah also served in the military, under the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, for 40 years. She actively served during the Korean War and was the first nurse officer who became a two-star rear admiral.
In 1981, Faye Glenn Abdella became the first nurse and woman to be named Deputy Surgeon General. Under the said position, she developed countless educational materials on public health including AIDS, violence, caring for the mentally handicapped, hospice care, smoking cessaion, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
In 2000, Faye Glenn Abdellah was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in New York in recognition of her efforts to improve public health and the nursing profession.