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Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J. / Wisconsin women, graduate school, and the professions

Cooper, Signe S.
Chapter 5: Nursing in the UW system,   pp. 41-53 ff.

Page 41

5. Nursing in the University System
by Signe S. Cooper
"I wish you would educate your nurses for the nursing profession and
matrimony. We need people trained in the very careful manner that you are
training them." Thus Adda Eldredge, executive director of the Nurses
ment Service in Chicago wrote Helen Denne, director of the school of nurs-
ing, on May 2, 1936.
The letter documents the reputation that the university's first nursing pro-
gram, established in Madison in 1924, had attained in a short time. It also
flects the writer's concern that many graduates were leaving nursing through
The employment of married women is no longer the issue it was in 1936;
a large proportion of the nursing alumni successfully combine marriage and
career. Indeed, graduates number men as well as women. In spite of the
burgeoning enrollment of the last decade, the quality of practice of the
university's nursing alumni remains high, as does the demand for graduates
by many different types of employing agencies.
In 1974, the school of nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
celebrated its fiftieth anniversary; significantly, that same year the first
ates of an innovative curriculum received their diplomas. The school has
beyond its traditional and somewhat conservative origins to the vanguard
nursing education.
The school of nursing at UW-Madison is the oldest collegiate nursing pro-
gram in the state, and is among the oldest in the country. Today in the UW
System, there are four nursing schools located at Eau Claire, Milwaukee,
Oshkosh and Madison, but the others are more recent in origin (since 1963)
than Madison.
Background of Collegiate Nursing Education
The University of Minnesota is generally credited with establishing the
first collegiate school of nursing in the world in 1909.1 This momentous
in the history of nursing marked the beginning of a trend for nursing educa-
tion to move out of its hospital base into institutions of higher learning.
development in a neighboring state had a direct, though not immediate, effect
upon events at the University of Wisconsin.
To appreciate fully the impact of moving nursing education into educa-
tional institutions, it is helpful to review the origins of nursing education.
1860, Florence Nightingale established the first modern school of nursing
St. Thomas' Hospital in London. The school was established as a school inde-
pendent from the hospital, financed by contributions of citizens grateful
Nightingale for her part in the Crimean War. The idea of independent schools
was brought to the United States, along with many of Nightingale's other
progressive ideas, but, with few exceptions, this idea was soon lost, largely
economic reasons.
The first schools of nursing were established in the United States in
1873. In spite of initial opposition by physicians, they gained acceptance
when it became apparent that student nurses provided considerable service

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