‘Exceptional’ nurse academic dies aged 63

A senior nurse academic, mental health nurse and Nursing Times contributor has died aged 63.

Professor Julie Attenborough, associate professor and associate dean for undergraduate studies in City, University of London’s School of Health and Psychological Sciences, died on 5 January after a period of illness.

The school’s dean, Professor Debra Salmon, said Professor Attenborough was “truly exceptional” and a valued friend to many people at the university where she taught undergraduate mental health nursing and health sciences students.

Professor Attenborough was also a registered mental health nurse up until her death, having trained at Leeds Western Health Authority and qualified in 1986.

As a nurse, Professor Attenborough specialised in substance use and homelessness – a field of interest she maintained in her academic career.

She joined City, University of London in 1997. There, Professor Attenborough researched the link between homelessness and mental illness.

“Julie’s passionate advocacy of the nursing profession, and of the role and experience of healthcare students, was at the heart of everything she did”

Debra Salmon

Other research she undertook included a doctorate on the “liminal” identity of the nurse in society and healthcare.

“As a professor of nursing, and having worked at City for over 26 years, Julie was not only a truly exceptional member of our team but also a valued friend to many,” said Professor Salmon.

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“Her knowledge, dedication, warmth, and humour have had a profound impact on countless lives, and her absence reverberates across our university and the wider healthcare education community.

“Julie’s passionate advocacy of the nursing profession, and of the role and experience of healthcare students, was at the heart of everything she did.”

Throughout her nursing and academic career, Professor Attenborough also took on roles at the Council of Deans of Health and at the Royal College of Physicians.

From 2019 until her death, Professor Attenborough was also a governor at Homerton Healthcare NHS Trust.

Professor Attenborough was also a contributor to Nursing Times, providing research on topics including nurse education, pedagogy and professional regulation, as well as substance use care.

As well as this, she volunteered her time to help judge the Nursing Times Awards several times.

Professor Salmon added: “Her extensive contributions to the healthcare education landscape, and the indelible mark she has left on all those who knew and loved her, will be her lasting legacy.

“We will miss Julie so very much; our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly sad and difficult time.”

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