Thought this should be mentioned: School of Nursing celebrates 100 years | - Serving the University of Minnesota Since 1900

While 1909 was a seemingly quiet year on the national stage — following the year of the birth of the Boy Scouts, Mother’s Day, and the Ford Model T — it also gave rise to a landmark institution at the University of Minnesota.

Tuesday kicks off a yearlong celebration for the 100th birthday of the University’s School of Nursing.

In 1909, the School of Nursing was the first in the nation to be based in a university rather than a hospital.

For 100 years, the school has continued to lead the state and nation in nursing field innovations, Dean Connie White Delaney said.

“The University of Minnesota is profoundly known for both the education and research related to integrating all dimensions of who we are as human beings in society,” she said.

Delaney, who has led the school for a little more than three years, said in the next 100 years the “school will continue to put the discovery of new nursing knowledge first.”

Former dean Sandra Edwardson , who continues to teach in the school, said the emphasis on the research mission of the School of Nursing is one of the major shifts she has seen the school undergo since she joined the faculty 30 years ago.

Some of the methods of education have changed over the years as well, she said. As the availability of practice sites for nursing students has declined, the college has focused on “doing much more in simulation … like injecting oranges or testing each other’s blood pressures,” Edwardson said.

The University may not be the largest producer of nursing graduates for the state, she said, but it continues to be a leader in graduating advanced practice nurses and nursing faculty for other programs. The University is the only program in the state that offers a doctoral level degree.

Caleb Dettmann , a nursing senior and president of the Nursing College Board, said he and his classmates feel honored to be the centennial graduating class this spring.

“It holds big, big meaning for me: understanding where we’ve come in the past hundred years in the nursing profession, what we’re allowed to do and how we’re treated,” Dettmann, who hopes to specialize in pediatric or neonatal nursing, said.

One of the challenges Dettmann and his peers will face as they enter the field, he said, is the evolving role of nursing within the health care system.

Nursing and nursing’s place in the medical hierarchy will change as the demands of the health care system changes over the coming years, he said.

Linda Halcón , associate professor and chair of the integrative global and public health cooperative, received her bachelor’s degree in the School of Nursing in 1983 after previously receiving her two-year degree elsewhere, and said she has seen a shift in the motives of students in the past few years.

“Our students have a deeper understanding of social justice and wanting to contribute to health equity,” she said. “They’re really wanting to make an impact.”

The health care system has changed “markedly” since Halcón was first licensed as a nurse and she thinks it is “entering an era where (University nursing students) will need to be pioneers again.”

But Halcón believes the School of Nursing’s history of influence in the state means they are “well positioned to really be a force in shaping health care for the future.”

Under former dean Edwardson’s direction in the 1990s and early 2000s, the School of Nursing’s research arm took off.

Clinical assistant professor Mary Chesney said the School of Nursing is home to specialized nursing centers that focus their research on specific populations, such as the elderly and teenagers.

A number of the centers receive federal funding from the Center for Nursing Research in the National Institutes of Health, such as the centers for children with special health care needs and adolescent nursing.

Outside the college, “there’s a greater appreciation now for nursing careers that are out of the mainstream,” said assistant professor Carolyn Garcia , who received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University.

As an alumna of the school, Garcia said the centennial celebration is a good time for students and faculty in the school to reflect on the past achievements, such as the work of Katharine Densford in the history of nursing.

“I think of the way nursing was done so many years ago, and how much we’ve grown as a profession and a discipline,” she said. “Our school of nursing has contributed a lot to that growth, which is really exciting.”