Laying the foundation for nursing excellence
In the 1960s and ’70s, the times they were a-changing, and Bob Dylan’s anthem applied to nursing as well as to society in general.
Historically, nurses in the United States had been educated through hospital-based diploma programs. Houston had five diploma schools: St. Joseph’s School of Nursing, Baptist Sanitarium (Memorial Hospital), Jefferson Davis Hospital School of Nursing, Methodist Hospital School of Nursing, and Hermann Hospital School of Nursing.
However, a move was afoot as early as 1948 to transition nursing education from hospitals to universities. The seminal “First Position Paper on Education for Nursing,” published by the American Nurses Association in 1965, accelerated this shift. Hospital-based programs closed their doors, and university programs expanded.
What would become Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston was established in March 1972, first as a clinical campus for the nursing school in Galveston. The following year, it officially became one of six locations within The University of Texas System, and the Hermann Hospital School of Nursing closed.
The school first set up offices at the nurses’ residence at Hermann Hospital but did not stay there long. Before the first classes started, they moved across the street to the Hermann Professional Building Annex because their initial home was being torn down to make way for what is now McGovern Medical School.
“The annex was the garage, and we had first-floor classrooms, but they were on the Fannin Street side, and on the Main Street side were the administrative offices and library,” the late Dorothy Otto, EdD, MSN, RN, recalled in a 2013 oral history interview for the Texas Medical Center’s Women’s History Project. To get from one side to the other, nursing faculty and students had to walk through the parking garage. “We called the driveway Carbon Monoxide Lane.”
Ten faculty members had been hired by July 1, 1972, with about two months to create the curriculum. “We had the other UT System schools, so we borrowed from them,” Otto said. Classes took place wherever space could be found within the Texas Medical Center or in a basement conference room. Faculty loaded overhead projectors and lecture materials onto carts and wheeled them to the place where a class was to be held on a given day.
Ninety-eight students started the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program on August 28, 1972, and 86 would graduate in May 1974. They established the alumni association in 1975.
That same year, the school moved to the Houston Main Building (formerly the Prudential Building) at 1100 Holcombe Blvd., where it would remain for the next 30 years. Offices and classrooms occupied three floors of the building, and a swimming pool in the rear was quite popular among students.
Throughout the ’70s, academic programs grew steadily. The same year the first BSN class graduated, programs in gerontological, oncological and psychiatric/mental health nursing were established as well the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. In 1976, the first MSN students enrolled, and the nursing school became part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The creation of the nation’s first emergency nurse practitioner program capped the decade in 1979.
- The School of Nursing opens its doors in March at the nurses’ residence of the Hermann Hospital, but soon moves into the Hermann Professional Building Annex.
- Elizabeth (Betty) C. Jones, PhD, MSN, RN, is named associate dean of the school.
- On Aug. 28, 98 undergraduate students are admitted into the BSN program.
- The School of Nursing officially becomes one of The University of Texas System Schools of Nursing.
- 86 students graduate with a BSN.
- The school moves to Houston Main Building at 1100 Holcombe Blvd.
- MSN degree program is established.
- Programs in gerontological, oncological, and psychiatric/mental health nursing are established.
- The School of Nursing Alumni Association is formed.
- Dorothy Otto, EdD, MSN, RN, becomes acting dean.
- The School of Nursing becomes a part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
- The first MSN students enroll.
- Arlowayne Swort, PhD, RN, becomes dean.
- Emergency Nursing Program is established.
(Banner image: Early faculty members included (L-R) Dorothy Otto, Sylvia Leutz, Ana Valdez, Kathy Kurg, Barbara Sims, Angela Leal, Patti O’Kane, and Cheryl Levine.)