Passionate Student Compassionate Healers

Commitment to Education & Research

The Growth & Development of the School of Nursing

Simulation Lab

Founded on the principles of Caring Compassionate Service and Commitment to Education and Research, the School of Nursing continued to grow. From the beginning the program has been supported by members of the Jesuit community and especially the Presidents of Boston College. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the School of Nursing, Rev. William P. Leahy, S. J., President of Boston College since 1996, honored the many nurses who had graduated from Boston College and had contributed to the nursing profession on every continent and in every venue. He stated, “…we rededicate ourselves to the mission of the School of Nursing: preparing caring, competent health professionals inspired by the Jesuit, Catholic tradition” (as cited by Doona, 1997, p. 2). As the School of Nursing grew in numbers of students so did the programs offered.

In 1958, the Master's program was established. Currently there is a regular master's program; an entry program for non-nursing graduates; a RN to MS program; a post-master's program for additional clinical specialization; and dual degree programs. All prepare students for advanced nursing practice as nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists in seven distinct clinical specialties.

The first students entered the PhD in Nursing program in 1988. This was the first nursing doctoral program to be offered at a Jesuit university. It has produced more than 80 graduates who are in various clinical, research, and teaching positions throughout the United States and other countries. An MS/PhD option was introduced in 2000 for individuals seeking preparation in both advanced practice nursing and clinical research.

Continuing Education programs aim to continually improve the quality of healthcare by supporting and strengthening the education of nurses through current, practical and clinically-oriented lectures and skills training.

The school is now comprised of four major departments: Adult Health, Maternal/Child Health, Community Health, and Psychiatric Mental Health.

While incorporating the newest technologies, the school also develops its curriculum in the light of bioethics which maintains its central position as a life-giving force. The Boston College-Newton Wellesley Hospital Bioethics Forum was instituted as an outgrowth of this philosophy.

Research is supported by the Center for Nursing Research through three interrelated goals: to strengthen the research productivity of faculty in the School of Nursing; to increase intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and scholarship; and to communicate research findings to facilitate research utilization in nursing practice and in educational settings.

Dean Kelleher at pinning ceremony

The unique character of the University and its School of Nursing continues though circumstances have changed.  Virginia Henderson, recipient of an honorary degree from Boston college in 1983 and nurse-citizen of the world, wrote…"I have a special; affection for it, the Nursing School at Chestnut Hill… There seems more feeling there than in most places I’ve been in recent years." (as cited in Doona, 1987, p. 35).

When Father Gorman reminisced with Dean Kelleher in 1973, he remembered, "You always worked to instill in all our students a real personal feeling for …people besides the requisite excellence in the strictly clinical field. That was always one of our proudest feelings that our students were almost always considered to be personally concerned with their patients…. We always, I think, considered that a necessary quality in our nurses." (as cited in Doona, 1987, p. 35).


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