Ella and her sister Thelma would go to work with their mother, emptying trash cans at Massillon City Hospital. She witnessed patients suffering and knew she wanted to grow up to help.
"Since we were Black and it was before [World War II], you either had to go North or South to a big college to get accepted." At age 16 she went to Chicago and enrolled at Provident Hospital and Training School.
After putting her career on hold to get married and raise four children, Ella returned to nursing in 1951 at age 31. She and her sister Thelma received scholarships to attend Massillon City Hospital School of Nursing. They were the first black students to be accepted into the school. Ella served as Vice President of the MCH Student Association. Ella Mitchell went on to work for more than 20 years as the head nurse of the Pediatrics Division, and later in coronary care.