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Golden year for School of Nursing

November 9, 2005

Photo of a nurse at the bedside of a patientSchool of Nursing graduates and former faculty -- from all over California and as far away as Mississippi -- visited campus Nov. 5 to celebrate the school's 50th year. A highlight of the day's programming was a keynote speech by Rheba de Tornyay, an SFSU alum, former instructor and director of the nursing program from 1959 to 1967.

The event marked 50 years of progress for not only the school, but also the profession.

SFSU's nursing program admitted its first 10 students the year that Dr. Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine. That same year -- 1955 -- the nursing profession began to take on a new identity in the world of medicine when the American Nurses Foundation was funded to provide research grants to improve practice and to publish scientific studies in nursing. When the SFSU program began, Nursing was a department in the SFSU College of Education because the program prepared students to be school nurses.

De Tornyay was working on a degree in education in 1953 when the Nursing Department's first chair, Evelyn Pederson, came to campus to develop the program. She helped Pederson refine the curriculum. A year later, de Tornyay was the first instructor hired by the Nursing Department.

"I was given the opportunity to put into action all I believed nursing education should be," de Tornyay said in her keynote remarks. "I was so excited to be a part of what I knew was destined to be the wave of the future in nursing education."

Though the curriculum expanded steadily over the years, the department did not become the School of Nursing and a part of the College of Health and Human Services until 1994.

Today, students who earn a bachelor of science in nursing at SFSU are eligible for Registered Nurse licensure and Public Health Nursing Certification in California and are prepared for positions in maternity, pediatric, medical-surgical, gerontologic, psychiatric/mental health, community health and home care nursing. The master of science in nursing degree, which prepares nurses for advanced practice in acute care, ambulatory care and community and home health settings, was added in 1988.

This semester 250 undergraduate and 150 graduate students attend the School of Nursing.

"Our students leave with a solid foundation on which to build careers in research as well as practice," said Karen Johnson Brennan, the school's interim director and also an alum. "Last year, 91 percent of our graduates passed the challenging state nursing boards on their first try."

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified November 9, 2005 by University Communications