RN-BSN program Class of 2004
If you went to the school, I think you'd be interested in this story: The Galveston County Daily News
The history of the School of Nursing at the University of Texas Medical Branch is a window on the history of nursing education in this country.
Opening in March 1890 as the privately operated John Sealy Hospital Training School for Nurses, it was the first school of nursing in Texas.
In 1896, the school came under the umbrella of the University of Texas. According to the late medical branch chronicler Dr. Chester R. Burns, it then became “the first American nursing school directly affiliated with a state university.”
“When the school started, nursing was still struggling for appropriate recognition as a profession,” Pamela G. Watson, dean of the medical branch’s school of nursing, said.
“In the 19th century, most women did not work. Those who did were doubtful about the value of pursuing nursing as an occupation.”
Among the circumstances that contributed to establishment of the school was the opening of John Sealy Hospital in January 1890 and a hip injury to a niece of Magnolia and George Sealy.
The young girl, Ella Goldthwaite, was taken to New York for medical treatment.
When the Sealys returned to Galveston Island, they brought with them a professional nurse, Dorothea Fick, to provide care to Ella as her private nurse.
Fick accompanied the Sealys because there were no professional nurses on Galveston Island.
Fick had received training at the Mount Sinai Hospital Training School for Nurses in New York. Sadly, Ella died within a year of her return.
Yet, prominent Galveston women encouraged Fick to remain and serve as the first director of the John Sealy Training School for Nurses. These women were known as the Board of Lady Managers.
Their leader was Rebecca Sealy, the widow of John Sealy, who had left money in his will “for charitable purposes.” The Sealys donated the money to the city to build a hospital.
The Lady Managers then raised funds to operate the nursing school until it became part of the University of Texas. Of the 10 women who enrolled in the school’s inaugural class in March 1890, six graduated in 1892.
Nursing education in Galveston has come a long way since. The school graduated more than 280 nurses in 2009 and has ambitious plans for the future, targeting a graduating class of 500 by 2020. More than 5,000 nurses have graduated from the school.
“When the school of nursing started 120 years ago, it was expected to train nurses for John Sealy Hospital,” Watson said.
“For a long time, students from the school were considered to be ‘the hospital’s nurses,’ but that changed over time. Now, we’re educating nurses not only for UTMB but for the state, the nation and the world.”
In addition to its traditional mission of educating nurses, the school of nursing has progressively expanded its master’s and doctoral programs to address the shortage of faculty and nurse scientists.
“The shortage of faculty is a major impediment to meeting the demand for nurses,” Watson said. “We turn away many qualified students who want to become nurses simply because we don’t have enough faculty.
The nurse-managed clinic at St. Vincent’s is as much a laboratory as it is a health care setting.
Its purpose is to divert uninsured people who are chronically ill from expensive treatment in emergency rooms to a more appropriate and effective medical home at the clinic.
Lessons learned from this clinic might one day help hospitals and communities across the country find a better way to take care of the uninsured.
“Nurses are the heart of health care delivery in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and wherever there are patients,” Watson said.
“We’ve come a long way over the years but, as we’ve seen in the national health care debate, we have a long way to go. Schools of nursing are in the front line because nothing happens in health care without nurses.”
RN-BSN program Class of 2004
Cary James Barrett, RN, BSN