School of Nursing celebrating 75 years
Guest Blog by Professor Jennifer Medves,
Vice Dean Faculty of Health Sciences and Director of the School of Nursing
The School of Nursing is celebrating a milestone 75th anniversary this year. Compared to other nursing schools in Canada, Queen’s has a long history. The first program based at a Canadian university was in 1919 at UBC. The School of Nursing at Western was established in 1920, and the University of Ottawa in 1933. The University of Toronto was the first to develop a 4-year degree program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. This was the year after Queen’s School of Nursing was founded. Interestingly, according to King (1970), Queen’s was approached in the early 1900’s to start a university program and as with other universities declined.
Fast forward to 1941 and the Senate documents confirm that a nursing program would be established. The early history of the program is well documented in the monograph Breaking Down the Walls. Principal Wallace seems to have been a major figure in bringing nursing to Queen’s, nursing students were registered prior to appointing the first director in August 1946. The first Director, Ms. Riches, reported directly to the principal as opposed to the Dean of Medicine. Interestingly, the first class in the Course in Nursing is not recorded. The first two candidates were awarded the Bachelor of Nursing Science in May 1947. In 1948, 10 students graduated and their photograph hangs in pride of place in the School of Nursing. Ms. Riches does not appear in any other pictures as she resigned in 1949 to start her married life.
The School of Nursing was initially housed in Kingston Hall and moved to Summerhill in 1960 where it remained until 1982 when it moved to the Cataraqui Building. Today, we are searching for a replacement building as the Cataraqui Building does not meet the needs of the School. It is cramped, poorly heated and cooled, and simply far too small for the student, staff and faculty complement.
We started our celebrations with the Kingston Nursing Student Conference 6th and 7th November 2015. The next event is a dinner in on March 31st, 2016, a music event in September 2016, and finally the Queen’s Joanna Briggs Collaboration Conference of the Americas at the end of September 2016. We will also be co-hosting a historical exhibition with the Museum of Health Care in the winter term of 2016.
Healthcare today is significantly different than in 1941. However, the fundamentals of nursing have not changed. Our by line for the School Caring to Learn: Learning to Care summarizes the core of nursing practice. Nurses care. Educating the next generation of nurses is always challenging because of reduced clinical opportunities in hospitals and a complicated system of care in the community. A good placement one month may be completely different in home care if the agency with the contract changes. With changes to home care now expected because of the dismantling of CCAC’s this becomes even more difficult.
Expanding and changes to scope of practice challenge educators to be nimble and adaptable. One example is the removal of Tramadol® to a different status. Nurse practitioners cannot prescribe this drug and so the students need to be notified and we need to teach them how to adapt to this situation. Recently the premier announced that Registered Nurses would be authorized to prescribe. We believe that to prescribe without the authority, and knowledge, to diagnosis is inappropriate and potentially very dangerous. The Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council is now examining the issue but faculty in education programs are already consulting and discussing this potential major curriculum change that would be required to accommodate this expanded scope of practice.
If you have any comments about the School of Nursing, please respond to the blog, and as with Richard’s door, mine is always open – keeps heat in my office – so please drop by.
Hill, E. J. M., & Kirkwood, R. (1991). Breaking Down the Walls: Nursing Science at Queen’s University. Brown and Martin Ltd; Kingston, Ontario
King (1970). The development of university nursing education. In M. Q. Innis (Ed.), Nursing education in a changing society (pp 67-88) University of Toronto Press; Toronto, Ontario.