BYU’s College of Nursing will mark 60 years of teaching


Walking from the hall into a quiet room, with only the faint sound of the TV in the background, six beds line both sides of the room while they wait. Wait for treatment, wait for peace of mind and hope to be healed. That is what the nurse will give them: treatment, peace of mind and a hope for the future.

BYU’s College of Nursing celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2012. Much has happened in the history of the nursing school to get it where it is today.

Nursing was not always taught at universities. BYU’s nursing school history can be traced back to early women of the LDS Church and Church leaders.

[media-credit name=”Chris Bunker” align=”alignleft” width=”202″][/media-credit]
Nursing student Casey Bunker joins BYU College of Nursing in celebrating 60 years of service and work.
“The members of the community and leaders of the Church have been interested in nursing since the very beginning,” said Elaine Marshall, former dean and author of the book “Learning the Healer’s Art,” which is a history of the College of Nursing.

Early women of the Church would care for one another. Women would assist each other as midwives during child birth. But after crossing the plains and entering the Salt Lake Valley, President Brigham Young put together a counsel of female help. Women were sent to the east coast to go to medical school. After returning home, the women would hold classes to teach others about medicine.

“Women in the church were pioneers since the very beginning,” Marshall said.

The Church organized a way to teach women about medicine. The Relief Society School of Nursing was opened, and three women from every ward were asked to train, return to their home wards to help and show charity towards those who needed it.

In 1906, the LDS Hospital School of Nursing opened, and a three-year training program was set up to give women the skills they needed to work as a nurse. Many hospitals nationwide opened their doors to nursing schools, and until the 1950s, nursing schools were only held in a hospital setting.

“It was Church leaders at highest level that decided that it was time for them to be trained in university setting,” Marshall said.

It was decided that the first school of nursing would open up on the campus of Brigham Young University, and in 1952, BYU’s College of Nursing began.

From the very beginning, BYU’s College of Nursing has been very competitive. The first class admitted only graduated 25 of the 80 students admitted.

Sixty years later, though the uniforms, instruction and faculty members have changed many times, the nursing school still strives to help students succeed in medicine, and maintain its strong tradition towards integrating spiritual care as well as physical care.

The 60th anniversary of the Nursing School’s cherished history will be celebrated on April 6, 2012. This big celebration will be held in one day full of events so that as many students, faculty and alumni as possible can attend.

“I am excited for this celebration,” said Carly Schutjer, an alumni of BYU’s College of Nursing. “I loved my time at BYU and the education I received has helped me now that I am working as a nurse in Salt Lake.”

As part of the celebration a service project, keynote speakers, reunions, tours and Marshall’s publication “Learning the Healer’s Art” will be introduced.

The service project for the anniversary celebration will involve tying fleece blankets to be given not only to pediatric patients but adult rape patients, too. The blankets will be given to the Salt Lake sexual assault nurse examiners to hand out. In the Salt Lake area, after each patient is treated, they are given a blanket to take home with them.

“It helps a patient heal when you give them a blanket and tell them it comes from someone who cares,” said Julie Valentine, a faculty member helping coordinate the project. “It is important that they know there are people out there who care. Having a blanket helps start the healing process.”

Hospitals in the Salt Lake area go through more than 400 blankets each year, because Utah has a higher number of rape victims than the national average.

“One in eight women will be raped sometime in their life,” Valentine said. “We need to reach out to the community because we don’t want any of our patients to go away without a blanket.”

For the celebration, a national keynote speaker will be brought in for the first time. Michael R. Bleich, dean of the Oregon College of Nursing, will speak on the future of nursing and how nursing schools need to respond to the changes being made to medicine on a national level.

Alumni chapters have been created to help in networking for future students. These recent chapters are one change the school has made to help graduates find jobs after graduation.

“We are hoping that the evolution of the chapters will allow them to have a network to tap into wherever they go,” said Jane Coats, chair of the alumni board. “We hope that older alumni reach out to younger alumni as we get together for this celebration.”

The College of Nursing celebrates 60 years of education and commitment to teaching students how to help patients and make a difference. Through their education, students can help treat and bring a peace of mind and hope for the future to those in need.

“Whatever you are doing today is based on some history,” said Beth Cole, dean of the College of Nursing. “Having a noble history certainly sets the stage for outstanding accomplishments in the future. Our students are good people and go on to accomplish great things.”

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