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KU School of Nursing celebrates centennial in 2006

For the past 100 years, the University of Kansas School of Nursing has been a pioneer of innovative teaching methods and a national leader in outcomes-based research.

Established as the Department of Nursing, the School trained nurses along with KU's new medical school and the Eleanor Taylor Bell Memorial Hospital. Its curriculum demanded six hours of didactic instruction and 60 hours of practical work each week. In 1909, four women received the School's first nursing certificates.

Twenty years later, despite protests that nurses were overeducated and nursing education did not belong in the University, the School began offering a baccalaureate degree. Then, in 1968, it expanded to include a master's degree program, and, by 1983, had become the first in the Midwest to offer a PhD in nursing.

Today, more than 500 men and women are working toward their bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees at KU. Boasting nine graduate programs, it offers a curriculum for nearly every interest.

Outreach has been among the School's top priorities. In 1976, it unveiled a pioneering Master's in Nursing Outreach Program, which enabled nurses to work toward advanced degrees while remaining in their own communities. The School's Web-based master's program also garnered national recognition for providing an opportunity for BSN- and certificate-prepared students to complete advanced degrees without stepping foot in a classroom.

Pictured, from left, at a recent birthday celebration are Barbara Atkinson, MD, executive vice chancellor, KU Medical Center; Karen Miller, RN, PhD, dean, KU Schools of Nursing and Allied Health, and senior vice chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs; and Rita Clifford, RN, PhD, associate dean for Student Affairs, School of Nursing. The celebration featured balloons, music, cake and punch.

The School also became one of the only in the country to use standardized patients and the first to implement healthcare informatics into its curriculum. Today, the KU School of Nursing is ranked 21st among National Institutes of Health-funded public nursing schools nationwide, and it proudly includes among its alumni and faculty some of the field's most accomplished leaders.

Dr. Miller, pictured to the right at the Gala on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006, toasts the KU School of Nursing "for what has been, what is now and what will be!"

For additional stories about the KU School of Nursing's history, visit the Web site "This Week in KU History."