Formal nursing education in the LSU System began in the summer of 1929 on the Baton Rouge campus. The Louisiana State League of Nursing Education requested specific courses as additional education for registered nurses. The Daughters of Charity at Charity Hospital of New Orleans recognized the need for specialized professional education for nurses holding responsible positions in hospitals and schools of nursing education and suggested the LSU courses become a permanent program to prepare registered nurses for positions in teaching, supervision, and administration.
The new program was inaugurated with courses being taught at Charity Hospital in 1931. Between 1931 and 1938, there were individual courses available including supervision in nursing, ward management, ward instruction and several general education courses. Beginning with the 1938 school year, a formally recognized nursing curriculum was initiated for registered nurses.
In 1933, a program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing Education was approved by the LSU System. The newly established Department of Nursing graduated three students in the first class. During the first years of its existence, the Department functioned, except for a brief period, under the General Extension Division, as a department of the Teachers' College of LSU, Baton Rouge. Students were admitted to this program on the basis of having completed a diploma program in nursing and credit was allowed on basic nursing course work. Students graduating from this program were granted the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Education degree, which was awarded at ceremonies on the Baton Rouge Campus.
In 1937, the Department was transferred to the School of Medicine in New Orleans. The "combined program'' or "five year program'' was instituted. This program consisted of two years of college work in advance of the three years in the regular diploma program of the Charity Hospital, New Orleans School of Nursing. Admissions to this program were discontinued in June 1952.
Until May 1, 1949, Sister Henrietta Guyot, Head of the Department of Nursing was not only in charge of the Department but was also Head of the Charity School of Nursing and of the Nursing Service Department of Charity Hospital. Sister Henrietta was relieved of responsibility for nursing service at Charity Hospital on May 1, 1949, and for the Charity Hospital School of Nursing on July 1, 1951. This allowed her to devote full attention to administration of the Nursing Program at LSU until February 1965 when she retired from the Department.
With the goal of expanding its program to meet regional and state nursing needs, in 1952, the Department of Nursing invited a survey team of six consultants to evaluate the resources available to establish a School of Nursing at the School of Medicine in New Orleans, and to draw up a plan of reorganization. The proposals growing out of this survey formed a blueprint for the development of a new baccalaureate curriculum in nursing which was inaugurated by the LSU System in 1955. Two programs of study were established.
- A four year basic nursing program preparing high school graduates for professional nursing practice, and
- A program of five semesters designed to supplement and enrich the preparation of graduate registered nurses for the practice of professional nursing (referred to as the Specialized Registered Nursing Program).
Both of these programs led to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The earlier program for registered nurses, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Education, which included majors preparing for teaching and supervision, was discontinued in 1958.
The Louisiana State Board of Nurse Examiners accorded initial accreditation to the Program in Basic Nursing on September 16, 1955, and full approval on April 24, 1959. The Department of Nursing has held agency membership in the National League for Nursing, Department of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs, since 1955.
Following a self-study report submitted by the faculty in September 1961, the first visit for national accreditation purposes was held in Spring 1962. As a result of this survey visit and report, the Department of Nursing received full initial accreditation of its basic program by the National League for Nursing on May 5, 1962. Since that time, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree Program maintained full accreditation status with the National League for Nursing until 1998 when the program was accredited for 10 years by the Council on Collegiate Nursing Education. The next site visit for accreditation will occur in 2009.
In 1964, the Department of Nursing announced that as of June 1967, the separate program of study for registered nurses would be discontinued. The Department would continue the curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. In addition to the basic students, registered nurses were admitted with a limited amount of advance standing credit granted on the basis of specific course examinations. The decision to make this change was based on recommendations from the National League for Nursing and was in line with improved educational practices in nursing.
On March 13, 1968, the Department of Nursing was relocated from the first floor of the School of Medicine Building on Tulane Avenue into two newly renovated buildings on Florida Avenue. These buildings were former World War II Navy barracks, which, after renovation, provided adequate office and classroom space for the existing program.
The Department of Nursing of the Medical School was accorded status as a separate and autonomous School by action of the Board of Supervisors in December 1968 and the official name became the School of Nursing of the Medical Center.
The Master of Nursing degree offering was approved March 23, 1972 by the Louisiana Coordinating Council for Higher Education and the first students were enrolled in the fall of 1972. The first Master of Nursing degrees were conferred in May 1975. The Master of Nursing degree program was granted initial accreditation by the National League for Nursing on December 9, 1977 and was continuously accredited by that agency until 1999. On March 24, 1998, the Master of Nursing program was accredited by the Council on Collegiate Nursing Education for a period of 10 years, with the next review due in 2009.
The Associate of Science in Nursing degree program was approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors on February 5, 1973, and the Louisiana Coordinating Council for Higher Education in March 1973.
The Louisiana State Board of Nurse Examiners granted approval August 1, 1973 and the first Associate of Science in Nursing degrees were awarded in August 1975. After 25 years, the Associate of Science in Nursing program graduated the last class in May 2000. The Program was continuously accredited by the National League of Nursing.
The Continuing Education Program began in January 1975 with the appointment of a Regional Coordinator for Continuing Education. This position was made available through a contractual agreement with the Louisiana State Nurses Association, and funded from a United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Special Project Grant. In 1978, funding from the Grant terminated and the program continued on State funds until 1986 when the program became self-supporting through self-generated income. The Continuing Education Program has been accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a provider of continuing education for the awarding of contact hours since July 1980.
On November 13, 1978, The University System purchased a six-story building, located at 420 South Prieur Street in New Orleans, to be used by the School. The structure, containing approximately 60,000 square feet of floor space, was completed in 1941 by Hotel Dieu Hospital and has been used for the Hotel Dieu diploma Nursing Program until the program closed in 1975. Over a period of years, The University System leased parts of this facility for the Associate of Science in Nursing Degree program (1972), for the Graduate Degree program (1973), for the School's administrative offices (1977).
After minimal renovation, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program moved into the fifth and sixth floors of the building, June 11, 1979. Renovations to accommodate the Multimedia Center were more extensive, requiring almost a year to complete. On April 1, 1980, the Center moved from temporary quarters at 1100 Florida Avenue, into the newly renovated first floor of the building. This event marked the first time in eight years the School was located in one facility.
In December 1984, the School of Nursing and the School of Allied Health Professions moved into a new building, located at 1900 Gravier Street. This building is connected at the third floor to the Medical Education Building, which opened in 1981. The Doctor of Nursing Science degree offering was approved June 27, 1985 by the State of Louisiana, Board of Regents. The first students were enrolled in Fall 1985 and the first Doctor of Nursing Science degree was conferred in December 1988.
A reorganization of the structure of the School of Nursing into departments was implemented in March 1999. Faculty and courses are assigned to one of three departments – Adult Nursing, Family Nursing and Mental / Community Health Nursing.
On December 7, 2001, the Louisiana Board of Regents granted approval to initiate the curriculum leading to the Master of Nursing with a specialization in Nurse Anesthesia. Students began specialization coursework in January 2002 with the first graduates in 2005.
In 2005, after hurricane Katrina, LSUHSC-NO relocated to the LSU Systems office and then Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. Within a month, the required Louisiana State Board of Nursing approvals were acquired so that students were able to complete their course work at new clinical locations. Graduate classes returned to New Orleans in January 2006 and undergraduate classes in the summer of 2006.
Master’s courses in nursing education were approved by the Board of Supervisors in January 2008. The Master’s in Nursing Education track has been submitted to the Board of Regents and approval anticipated the summer of 2008 after which the first students are expected to begin coursework. A letter of intent to offer the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at LSUHSC SON was approved in April 2008 by the LSU Board of Supervisors.