History of the Nursing Program at FSU

May 6th is Nurses Day!

Florida State College for Women (FSCW) began a precursor to the current Nursing Program in 1936. A B.S. in Nursing was available through the School of Home Economics. Students in this program worked closely with local hospitals to receive the necessary nursing training, while also taking more traditionally liberal arts classes at FSCW.

Nursing Instructor Teaching Her Students
Nursing Instructor Teaching Her Students, circa 1950s. [see item in digital library]
In 1949, FSU created a separate College of Nursing, which was the second collegiate nursing program established in the state of Florida, and appointed Ms. Vivian M. Duxbury as Dean. The first class admitted in 1950 and was made up of 25 young women. The classes continued to be made up of small groups of primarily female students for many years, even though it was introduced after the university became coed in 1947. This was primarily due to the stereotype of nursing being a woman’s job and becoming a doctor was strictly for men. This meant that there were no male professors or doctors to teach the female students. Therefore, the college utilized women who had obtained their nursing degree from elsewhere or had experience/training from past wars to teach the women.

1960s College of Nursing Class Photo
1960s College of Nursing Class Photo. [see item in digital library]
In 1958 Florida State’s nursing baccalaureate program became the first in Florida to receive national accreditation by the National League for Nursing. It was only 1 out of less than 100 in the entire nation to become accredited. This was a great accomplishment for FSU. Due to the newfound distinction of the nursing program, it was able to grow at a much faster rate than before. In 1975 the school of nursing was finally granted their own building on campus, Vivian M Duxbury Hall, and by 1976 1,871 students had graduated from the nursing program at FSU.

Black and White Photos of Nursing Instruments
Black & White Photos of Nursing Instruments. [see item in digital library]
In 1985, the school of nursing was able to offer a masters program for students pursuing higher degrees in nursing. By 2006, the school of nursing officially changed its name from School of Nursing to College of Nursing.

The College of Nursing is constantly improving, adapting, and pursuing high reaching goals. It is now ranked among the top one hundred universities in the nation and one of the most selective majors at FSU with only 80 applicants accepted in the fall and over 300 applicants applying. In the end, the College of Nursing’s prestige continues to add to FSU’s reputation as one of the top twenty public universities in the nation.

Held in Heritage & University Archives, are the records and memorabilia of the College of Nursing. This collection consists of papers, ephemera, and photographs that document the history and activities of the college from its development in 1948 through 2014. Included are records from the deans, the graduate nursing program, various faculty committees, student organizations (Student Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tau), and the Legacy Project, as well as materials created for special events such as pinning and graduation ceremonies, homecoming events, conferences, and presentations. A detailed inventory is located here.

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