History of the Nursing Department

  1. History of the Department of Nursing 
  2. Diploma and BS in General Sciences 
  3. Bachelor of Science in Nursing 
  4. Associate Degree in Nursing 
  5. Master of Science in Nursing 
  6. Gerontology Information 

Department of Nursing

More than 50 years have passed since Miss Leora Stroup was recruited to come to Fort Hays State University to lead a new nursing education program on the plains. Fort Hays State University established the program on its own fiftieth anniversary, and marked nursing’s 50th by celebrating its own 100th. The impetus for the program was to address a critical shortage of nurses in western Kansas. Nurse graduates launched their careers, and are now found around the world.

In the history of the State of Kansas, Fort Hays State University (FHSU) has been, and continues to be, the only state university in the western two-thirds of the state, serving an area equal to the combined land areas of the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Connecticut. The Nursing faculty has always been strongly committed to provide quality education to meet the health care delivery demands of the large rural area it serves. Recently, this area grew to include global service: Virtual College BSN degrees for Registered Nurses (RNs), and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees for Nursing Administration and Nursing Education Track students.

The current programs (BSN & MSN) are fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) through the year 2009 (the full ten years allowed). CCNE is a national autonomous accreditation agency, officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, that ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate and graduate education programs in preparing effective nurses. The programs are also fully approved by the Kansas State Board of Nursing (KSBN). The Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) Program, also approved by the KSBN, assisted nurses from 1977 until May 2002 in meeting their CNE requirements for re-licensure as required by the KSBN.

Technology has become a vital component of FHSU nursing education for several years. Because nursing students are often place-bound, extending technologies into rural and other settings makes sense. Rather than having the students come to campus, the learning environment comes to them. A number of Internet courses and two degrees are available. A multidisciplinary Gerontology minor, housed under the aegis of nursing, is also available on the web. Technology provides important linkages to the FHSU campus, including a web address for each student.

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Diploma and BS in General Science

Miss Stroup began with one nurse faculty member: herself. The first admitted students were from small Western towns and had been carefully screened by Miss Stroup. Nursing education was initially a 38-month, college-based diploma program. Students were, however, given the option of one additional year of study to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in General Science. Clinical experiences were arranged at Hadley Memorial Hospital (beginning nursing duty, 16 – 20 hrs/ wk for 34 wks), the University of Kansas Medical Center (pediatrics, out-patient, tuberculosis, eye-ear-nose-throat & night duty, for 1 yr), Topeka State Hospital (psychiatric, for 13 wks) and Chicago Lying-In Hospital (maternity & newborn, for 13 wks). Clinicals at Denver Childrens’ Hospital was added later. Graduation exercises for the first class (10 diploma graduates) were held in the Picken auditorium at 9:00 AM on 29 October 1955. By 1960, all students were required to obtain a Baccalaureate degree in General Science degree with the diploma as a first step toward the establishment of a baccalaureate degree with the major in Nursing.

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Bachelor of Science in Nursing

In 1967, the Kansas Board of Regents approved a request to grant the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in place of the diploma. The KSBN approved this change in 1968. The first BSN degrees were awarded in May of 1971.

The RN-to-BSN curriculum was initiated in the Fall of 1978. Nursing courses were offered in three off-campus sites in response to requests from the many RNs in Western Kansas who wished to achieve the BSN degree. The majority of these early RNs were diploma graduates who had little or no actual college credit. Currently, most RNs are admitted on transfer with the ADN; they complete their general education and required nursing courses and achieve the BSN degree. A plan also facilitates the academic endeavors of Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) graduates who wished to pursue the BSN. Advanced placement is offered to RNs and LPNs based upon a statewide articulation agreement between ADN and BSN education. Every effort is extended to maximize the transfer of credit from other accredited institutions.

In 1973, the Division of Nurse Education applied for and achieved initial accreditation from the National League for Nursing (Board of Review, Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs). This was a triumph for Dr Machan and the entire faculty.

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Associate Degree in Nursing

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) was conferred by FHSU to 36 Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) between 1982 and 1984. This was accomplished through a pilot project funded by local hospitals. The project was discontinued at the end of funding by mutual agreement.

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Master of Science in Nursing

In 1982, Dean Harvey appointed Professor L. Ileene Allen to conduct a needs assessment for a possible nursing masters degree. It took some time for the initiation of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program. The Board of Regents approved the MSN in 1987, the first students were admitted in 1989, the first classes were offered in the Spring of 1990, and the first MSN was conferred in the Summer of 1992. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS, in 1991) and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP, in 1992) Tracks were initiated as a result of community and student demand. The FNP Track holds the distinction of being the first graduate-level program for nurse practitioners in the State (it began as a post-baccalaureate but the MSN was soon a requirement). In 1993, a joint venture was developed with Hays Medical Center (HMC) to implement the HMC/FHSU Family Healthcare Center (FHC). This nurse-managed clinic became a vital component for FNP students. The FHC sites grew from Hays to include additions of the Ellis and Victoria sites to provide primary health care services within the region until 2006. In addition, the FHC provides actual laboratory and role model experiences for FNP students, as well as sites for faculty practice. The current Tracks are FNP, Nursing Administration, and Nursing Education (each of these is also available as a post-masters plan of study). An annual research conference, co-sponsored by Sigma Theta Tau, International, Nu Zeta Chapter, is held in May to showcase student, faculty and community research. This conference celebrated its Fifth Anniversary during the Department of Nursing Golden Anniversary year in 2002.

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Interdisciplinary Gerontology Programs

As we approach how to best work and thrive in the 21st century, it is vitally important that our society learn the normal process of aging, and how to work with older adults in all areas of professional and personal life. Because the interest in aging crosses all professional areas of life, gerontology is open to students from all majors, including RNs pursuing a BSN.

Minor in Gerontology
The gerontology minor complements a variety of existing degree programs by adding specific knowledge and skills in working with and relating to the older population. This 21 credit hour curriculum of study includes courses in the areas of sociology, psychology, biology, communication disorders, health and human performance, nursing, and technology studies.

For more information about Gerontology, contact:
Christine Hober, MSN, RN-BC, CNE
127 Stroup Hall
600 Park Street
Fort Hays State University
Hays, Kansas 67601 
chober@fhsu.edu
Web site: http://www.fhsu.edu/gerontology
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