Until the mid-20th century the training of nurses was the function of general hospitals who had organized schools of nursing under their direction, using their own clinical facilities in so far as they are adequate, and sending their nursing students away to larger hospitals for specialized clinical experience (called affiliation). By the 1950s collegiate schools of nursing were being established, which were operated by colleges or universities in affiliation either with their own hospitals or independent hospitals.
The first formal training of nurses was that established by Pastor Fliedner at Kaiserswerth, Germany, in 1836. Florence Nightingale's school established in 1860 at St. Thomas Hospital in London was the first significant nurses' training course in an English-speaking country. The first similar school in the United States was established at Roxbury, MA, near Boston, in 1872. By the turn of the century the original typical one-year training was being extended to three years, and high-school graduation was beginning to be required for entrance.
The first American Mennonite schools of nursing were established in the 20th century in the midst of the rising standards of nursing education. The first was the Bethel Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing (General Conference Mennonite) at Newton, Kansas, established in 1908 soon after the hospital was opened. This school trained both deaconess and non-deaconess nurses, though the number of deaconesses greatly declined by the 1950s. It originated in connection with Bethel College and was affiliated with the General Conference Mennonite Church.
The second school was the Mennonite School of Nursing at Beatrice, NE, established in 1911 and continued to 1929 as a small 3-year school operated by the Mennonite Deaconess Home and Hospital. In 1941-1947 a two-year course in practical nursing was offered.
The third school was the La Junta Mennonite Hospital and Sanitarium School of Nursing, established in 1915 and operated by the hospital under the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities until 1949, when it was placed under the Mennonite Board of Education as an independent school. Though it was a quality school of high standards it was forced to discontinue through decline in the patient census at the hospital with which it was affiliated. The last class was graduated in 1958. A course in practical nursing was instituted by the hospital in 1957.
The Salem Home and Hospital, founded by the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Church at Hillsboro, KS, in 1918, began a training school for nurses and deaconesses but it was never fully developed and was later discontinued.
The Mennonite Hospital at Bloomington, IL, an institution supported by the members of the Central Conference of Mennonites and the Evangelical Mennonites in Illinois, which was established in 1920 by taking over the existing Kelso Sanitarium with its school of nursing, has had a school of nursing from its beginning in 1920.
The Mennonite Hospital at Mountain Lake, MN, also had a training program for a time.
In Russia a three-year training school for nurses was established in 1909 by the Deaconess Home Morija in Neu-Halbstadt, Molotschna. It was a private undertaking, was built primarily with the funds furnished by Peter Schmidt of Steinbach, and was supported by voluntary contributions. It was opened 3 December 1909, but was practically destroyed in 1918 when it was plundered by bandits.
A training school for nurses was established in Filadelfia, Fernheim Colony, Paraguay, in 1945, in connection with the colony hospital, by Mrs. John Schmidt, wife of Dr. John Schmidt. It was operated for only a short time, and offered what was in effect a course in practical nursing.
The Mennonite Church (MC) in India has a school of nursing attached to the Dhamtari Christian Hospital at Dhamtari, M.P., established in July 1951, with a three-year course. -- HSB
In the 1960s approximately three times as many Mennonite students as non-Mennonite students chose nursing as an area of study. By 1987, in North America, the Mennonite Church (MC) had one Associate Degree (AD) program, four Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs, and one Registered Nurse (RN) completion program (RNs only). These schools all have voluntary National League for Nursing accreditation indicating excellence in standards.
Hesston College had a two-year AD program, including general education as well as nursing courses. The AD graduate is prepared to plan, provide, and evaluate nursing care for individuals and small groups of patients in hospitals or long-term care facilities, offices, or clinics.
The schools with BSN programs included: Goshen College, Eastern Mennonite College, Bethel College, and Mennonite College of Nursing at Bloomington, IL. The BSN was a four-year program which included general education and nursing courses, nursing theory and practice, community health, and leadership. A BSN graduate was prepared to provide preventive, therapeutic, and rehabilitative health care and to direct care given by the nursing team to patients in a variety of settings. The BSN was required for school nursing and community health work and was recommended for work overseas. It was the basis for graduate study at the master's level, for teaching, for administrative positions, and for research.
Bluffton College admitted only RNs to a nursing program providing upper-level nursing courses together with supporting and general education courses required for a BSN. Each of the other BSN programs admitted RNs as well as beginning students.
During the 1970s and early 1980s nursing enrollments were high. In the later 1980s declining enrollment became a major national problem with enrollments decreasing 23 percent from 1983 to 1987. During the same years, there was a decline in enrollment of 40.5 percent in Mennonite nursing programs. In 1988 the Bluffton nursing program was being phased out with the last class having been admitted in the fall of 1988.
In other countries, Mennonite nursing programs in the late 1980s included: Dhamtari Christian Hospital School of Nursing, India (MC); Shirati Nurses Training Unit, Tanzania (MC); Zambia Enrolled Nurses Training School (BIC); and a program at the Kajiji hospital (MB) in Zaire. The schools in Dhamtari and Shirati were three-year hospital programs with an optional additional midwifery course. The Kajiji program was a four-year program. The hospital at Filadelfia, Fernheim Colony, Paraguay, had a nursing education program for 40 years; in 1988 it graduated 15 "tecnicas de enfermeria" (nursing technicians) from a three-year, government-recognized course in 1987. The Mennonite Christian Hospital in Taiwan also had a nursing school program. -- NJW
Current listings of nursing programs are found in:
Horsch, James E., ed. Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. Scottdale: Mennonite Publishing House e.g., (1988-89): 130;
Courier, 3, no. 2 (1988): 15.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 928-929; v. 5, p. 642. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Bender, Harold S. and Norma Jean Weldy. "Nursing Education." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/N873.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. and Norma Jean Weldy. (1987). Nursing Education. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/N873.html.