About the Author
Gladys Mouro, the author of An American Nurse Amidst Chaos
19751998 (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1999), admits she is not
a writer. As with anyone with a story that begs to be told, the book was born
out of her unforgettable experiences of survival and devoted service during the
disastrous years of Lebanon's civil war while working as a nurse at the AUB
How Mouro came to be a nurse in Lebanon is a story in
itself. She was born in the U.S. of a mother who was originally Lebanese and
who had once taken her as a child on a visit to Lebanon. Years later at the age
of 17, with the excitement of that trip still deeply etched in her mind, she
decided to go to Lebanon to study nursing. The singular goal of her life had
always been to become a nurse; she also possessed an innate taste for adventure
and had always loved the challenge of taking risks. Little did she know then
the magnitude of risk she would later have to face. She was determined,
however, and against her family's wishes departed for Lebanon, promising that
she would return home immediately after graduation.
In June 1976, Mouro
received her BS in Nursing from AUB; but, because of the war, without the usual
cap and gown regalia and commencement ceremony. Soon afterwards,
at her family's urging, she
boarded a plane to leave Beirut.
second and last departure from Beirut occurred in the fall of 1982, after the
Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when Mouro again returned to the U.S.,
time lured by the AUB grant she was awarded to pursue an MSN at the University
of Pennsylvania. When she returned several months later, degree in hand, she
was appointed Director of Nursing Services. She was 27 years old and she
remembers her mind reeling with the reality of it: "Gladys Mouro, Director of
one of the most important positions in the hospital and
so vital to its functioning. Could I handle it? How would I deal with all those
people twice my age?"
In 1994, the Lebanese Government awarded her the
Silver Order of Health. And in 1995, she was appointed to the position of
Assistant Hospital Director for Nursing Services of the Medical Center. In that
capacity, Mouro is responsible for much more than nursing services; she acts as
the assistant hospital director administratively responsible for overseeing a
wide range of services, including pharmacy, dietary, infection control, quality
management, central supply and physiotherapy. In effect, this places 1,000
staff members under her jurisdiction.
In April 2003, Mouro addressed an
audience of 2,000 American nurse executives gathered at the conference of the
American Organization of Nurse Executives that was held in New Orleans.
Speaking to them at length on her experiences in leadership during and after
the war, she received a five-minute standing ovation and was honored with the
organization's Nurse Executive Award for the U.S. "It was a magical moment,"
she says, "truly the most memorable event of my life. It also turned out to be
a great marketing tool for AUB and nursing in Lebanon. Every single hospital in
the US is now aware of the competence of our nurses and AUB's high standards."
As for how she feels about her impressive performance as a nurse who rose
through the ranks to reach the top, she says: "I am proud of being persistent,
determined and passionate in my drive to achieve the highest level of
excellence at the institution I have devoted my entire career and life to. It
is a dream come true."
Understandably, Mouro has no time for hobbies, but
she swims and religiously exercises at a gym four times a week.