School of Nursing History
The history of Hurley Medical Center and its School of Nursing have been intertwined since the hospital opened and began operations in December 1908. The minutes of that month’s Board meeting show authorization to begin the School of Nursing, which opened one month later in January 1909.
Since the first student entered what was then officially called the Hurley Hospital Training School for Nurses, more than 3,800 registered nurses have graduated from the diploma program.
There is no comparison between nursing education today and that offered when the Hurley School of Nursing first opened. The first students were not required to have a high school diploma, incoming classes did not start at specific dates throughout the year, and most students came from surrounding farming communities.
These early students performed tasks far removed from those of today’s students. For example, early nursing education students had many housekeeping responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning rooms, scrubbing floors and making beds. The training was more vocational in nature than professional.
It wasn’t long before the school began to make changes. By 1913, the course had been lengthened from its original two and a half years to three years. Completion of a least the eighth grade became a requirement for admission. Students spent 12 hours per day, six and a half days per week, in the clinical area.
Echoing the expanded knowledge base required of incoming nursing students, in 1932 Hurley School of Nursing added high school graduation as an admission requirement.
In 1949, the school began to observe 40-hour weeks for its students. Soon after, the school began to employ nurse instructors whose primary job was educating students. Reflecting the growing emphasis on science in nursing, in the 1950s students began attending some classes at what is now Mott Community College.
In the 1970s, the first year of pre-nursing courses could be taken at the college or university of each applicant’s choice, with the second and third years taken at the Hurley School of Nursing. Classes began to be admitted on a regular basis, twice each year (in August and January), beginning with the Class of May 1977.
As the years have passed, science and nursing have become increasingly intertwined. Technology, computers, and videotapes are a regular part of the instruction provided to students.
As part of the nationwide trend toward four-year degree nursing programs, the school admitted its last class under the old program in January 1994. The last class to graduate from Hurley was the Class of December 1995. Hurley and the University of Michigan-Flint collaborated to create a four-year baccalaureate degree program. The first class of this current nursing program began instruction in Fall 1992 and graduated in Spring 1996. The university/hospital partnership continues to enhance both the teaching and research initiatives of the university and the quality of nursing care at Hurley.
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