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KU School of Nursing History

In the nursery

The School of Nursing began in 1906 as the University of Kansas Department of Nursing, with just four students. Now the School has nearly 700 students and a complete array of degree options on two campuses.

Nurses needed: In 1905, the KU School of Medicine was organized as a four-year, MD-granting institution, and the 35-bed Eleanor Taylor Bell Memorial Hospital followed a year later. But before the new hospital could open, receive patients and provide training for KU medical students, it needed a nursing staff. Fortunately, the Training School for Nurses — forerunner of today's KU School of Nursing - was blessed with a trio of early nursing leaders who helped lay a solid institutional foundation. Read more.

Inaugural class: Four women received their "graduate nurse" diplomas from KU in 1909. Read more.

Curriculum changes: The School of Nursing's baccalaureate program was established as an option in 1929. The original three-year diploma track with its apprenticeship model remained intact, and for many years thereafter continued to attract the lion's share of KU nursing students. Impediments aside, by the early 1930s, a handful of women were beginning to gravitate to the BSN degree and its rigorous curriculum. Now the KU School of Nursing has about 300 BSN students each year. Read more.

Expanding options: The School of Nursing gained approval to offer a Masters in Nursing degree starting in the fall 1968 semester. Read more.

On its own: On April 1, 1974, the Department of Nursing separated from the School of Medicine and became is own School of Nursing, one of three professional schools that occupy the present-day University of Kansas Medical Center campus. Read more.

Doctorate programs: The School of Nursing began its Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program in 1983 to meet the demand for nursing researchers to study relevant clinical problems, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2008 to prepare advanced practice nurses at the highest level of nursing practice.

Health Informatics: The School of Nursing recognized the growing influence of electronic health records on patient care and created an informatics specialty for the nursing masters and doctor of nursing practice programs in 2003 and 2010 respectively. Recognizing the need for informatics education in other health professions, the School of Nursing and the interprofessional Center for Health Informatics, developed a master's program open to students of all professions in 2010. The nursing informatics specialty program and the interprofessional health informatics program merged in the fall of 2019 and continues to accept students from all educational backgrounds.


Last modified: Jul 23, 2021
More History

Historical nurses

Read more about the school's history and see historic photos at