School of Nursing History
Idea to Reality and Years of Formation
Father Alphonse Schwitalla Portrait
In 1927 Father Alphonse Schwitalla, S.J. who had succeeded Dr. Loeb as dean of the School of Medicine, moved toward establishing a university school of nursing. He contacted Mother Concordia requesting her collaboration. Mother Concordia agreed and the partnership was formed that led to the formation of the School. In October 1928, the announcement of the opening of the school took place.
Rev. Mother Mary Concordia Pudendahl Statue
In the newly formed alliance the first lay students were admitted to the School. Today the School stands as a tribute to the leadership of Father Schwitalla and Mother Concordia.
Following is a brief resume of the structure and administration of the new school:
- First officers of the School of Nursing:
- Father Charles H. Cloud, S.J.,
President of the University
- Father Alphonse Schwitalla, S.J., Dean
- Moyer S. Fleisher, M.D., Secretary
- Ruth E. Schwarz, Registrar
- Father Charles H. Cloud, S.J.,
- Father Schwitalla served as the first dean of the new School due to the unsuccessful search for a nurse with the necessary qualifications for the position. The arrangement met with disapproval from nursing education leaders who encouraged Father Schwitalla to look carefully among his faculty for a nurse who could fill the position and lead the School in matters that pertained to the profession. In 1934, Sr. Athanasia Brune, S.S.M. was appointed associate dean of the school upon completion of the graduate degree in nursing from Loyola University in Chicago. She assumed leadership responsibilities for the school in conjunction with Father Schwitalla who remained officially as dean until 1940.
- The structure of the School incorporated three units
- St. Mary's Hospital unit,
- St. John's Mercy Hospital unit,
- Alexian Brothers Hospital unit
Each unit had its own governing council. Father Schwitalla served as chairman of all three units. He oversaw selection of faculty, supervised course offerings, and communicated frequently with faculty and administration regarding course content and schedules. Faculty carried service responsibilities in the respective hospitals in addition to their teaching assignments, a practice common at the time. Through his academic and administrative expertise Father insured rigorous quality of the curriculum.
- The Curriculum, In all three units two curricula were offered:
- a three year course of study leading to a certificate in nursing
- a five year course of study leading to a bachelors degree in nursing. The first three years of the five year course paralleled the certificate program, with two years of college education added.
- Course offerings reflected career choices of students and included:
- general duty nursing
- public health nursing
- industrial nursing
- hospital laboratory teaching
- The total program consisted of 1,168 clock hours, 67 semester hours, and earned a student a certificate from Saint Louis University. It reflected an emphasis on the social and health components of nursing. The 1929 program of studies approved by the Administrative Board included course work in modern and social movements, public health, public health nursing, sanitary sciences, history of nursing, personal and oral hygiene, and physiology. The program provided experiences in communication skills, English and public speaking, along with additional courses in the biological sciences and cultural subjects.
- A supplemental program, known as the fellowship program and later the service scholarship plan was also initiated in 1928. It allowed registered nurses to earn a degree in nursing. An early curriculum concern was the transfer of credits for admission to the supplemental program. Assistance from respected nursing educators of the day was sought in regard to guiding principles to be followed in evaluating applicants' academic background. Help in dealing with this concern came from Annie W. Goodrich, Dean of Yale University School of Nursing.
- Beginning in September 1930, a system was established whereby the transcripts of graduates from schools of nursing other than Saint Louis University were evaluated to determine advanced standing upon admission. A stipulation was made that the number of transfer credits could not be such that a student could complete work toward a degree in less than one year, a university policy that remains in effect.
- The first reports accrediting the three units of the School of Nursing are dated December 1929 for the year 1930. Evaluations were conducted annually by the Missouri State Board of Nurse Examiners and the Council of Nursing Education of the Catholic Hospital Association - each school unit being evaluated independently. Positive evaluations for the School at Saint Louis University are indications of the quality of the leadership of both Father Schwitalla and Mother Concordia as they guided the School during its formation and future development.
- The two have been memorialized through buildings named after them - the medical school building is known as Schwitalla Hall, and Mother Concordia Hall is on the grounds of Saint Mary's Hospital. The latter served as a residence hall for nursing students until the early 1960's.
Schwitalla Hall Concordia Hall
The first curriculum leading to a baccalaureate degree in nursing at Saint Louis University was developed in 1933-34. It was designed to prepare students for the University's teaching certificate. With the beginning of the fall semester of 1937, the curriculum leading to a bachelor of science degree in public health nursing was offered. Standards for basic professional curricula of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing and the National League for Nursing Education were adopted and enforced. The three year certificate program ceased to exist and the last group of students completed the program in 1939. (The program was reactivated in 1947-48 and deactivated again in 1950.) After the deactivation of the certificate program in 1939 administrators of Saint John's Hospital unit opted to separate from the university program. The Alexian Brothers Hospital unit had separated from the School in 1934. Saint Mary's unit then became Saint Louis University School of Nursing.
A principle directing the founding of the School of Nursing concerned the relationship between medicine, nursing and adjunct professionals. In 1929 the basic beginnings of the health service programs took shape. The programs of study and their starting dates follow:
- 1932 Dietetics
- 1934 Radiologic Technology, Physical Therapy, and Hospital Administration
- 1937 Medical Record Science
In 1935, the School of Nursing was separated into two divisions - the Division of Nursing and the Division of Health and Hospital Services. The School was then known as the School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and remained so until 1979 when each division became a separate school.
Undergraduate Nursing Pin
At the successful completion of the programs of study, students were awarded the school pin with its distinctive symbols that reflect the history and organization of the school as well as its spirit and objectives.