Capping it off: The nursing program
By Kris Leonhardt
Continued from previous edition:
In the early days of the St. Joseph’s School of Nursing curriculum, classes were taught by a school director, with hospital physicians lecturing three nights a week. That curriculum consisted of seven hours of chemistry, seven hours of study on nervous and mental diseases, and 44 hours on dietetics.
By 1978, the curriculum had ballooned up to 1,486 hours of classroom study.
While clinical experience has always been a vital part of the program, the early years focused heavily on the application of medical procedures in an apprenticeship style of learning.
Early graduates saw modest fees and miscellaneous costs, with tuition ranging around $22, with a $10 fee for books and a $5 fee for the nursing cap to be worn.
Uniforms were generally made by the student or their family, using a specific pattern.
In 1972, tuition at the nursing school was $2,080, with $435 in miscellaneous fees, $175 for books, $25 for a uniform, and room and board costing $1,164.
In the earlier apprenticeship style of learning, the student nurse’s service primarily paid for their learning.
The dynamics of the faculty and students also changed over time, with curriculum transforming into a classroom environment in the first two semesters, with clinical study coming later.
In 1947, the school accepted their first male student, but it wasn’t until the late 1960s that the first married student was allowed into the diploma program. At approximately the same time, the school hired their first lay administrator, where previous administrators had all been nuns.
In the fall of 1964, the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County opened and the university began offering a freshman program for the St. Joseph’s nursing program. These students took classes in bacteriology, chemistry, English, physiology, psychology, sociology, speech, and zoology.
At first classes were split between the university and the School of Nursing, but the program was later adjusted to offer the first two semesters of coursework solely at the UW and work in nursing at the school/hospital following that time.
In 1988, the School of Nursing graduated its final three-year diploma student. The hospital then began a program in association with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – a satellite program where graduates received a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
During its 74 years in existence, the School of Nursing graduated 2,499 nurses through its program.
Next week: The School of Nursing legacy
Read Part I of this series: Click here