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#71 Norwich Pioneered Modern Nursing Training in Vermont

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, Norwich Firsts

71-photo-vermont_college_commencement_1978By the 1950s, a nursing crisis had emerged in Vermont. The evolving role of nurses in the medical profession had put increasing demands on their time, and Vermont’s expanding hospitals also meant more beds. There simply weren’t enough trained nurses to go around.

To make matters worse, the options for nursing education in Vermont had dwindled. Before World War II, nurses had trained in hospital-run, non-degree diploma programs. Throughout the 1950s, as conventional wisdom increasingly favored academic settings for nurse training, the non-degree diploma programs—once available in even the smallest of community hospitals—were gradually phased out. By 1959, only two remained in Vermont.

But a new solution lay just over the horizon. In 1958, nursing educator Mildred Montag introduced the associate degree in nursing (ADN) as a middle ground between the non-degree hospital program and the expensive bachelor’s degree. Vermont College became the first school in the state to offer the ADN in 1961.

71-photo-nurses_training_for_vermont_college_of_norwich_university_students_1973Vermont College (VC) began training nurses at the dawn of the Vietnam era, which brought about another national nursing shortage as the armed forces drew more and more nurses into their ranks. VC—along with Norwich University, after the schools merged in 1972—responded to those demands, developing innovations in nurse education, and eventually offering its own BSN completion program in 1979. By 1997, this expanded to a full four-year baccalaureate degree program.

In 2005 enters the Master of Science in Nursing program offered through the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies, that was built for nurse administrators and educators, and will soon include a Nursing Informatics track. In 2013, the program was honored with a full accreditation through 2023.

In recent years, Norwich nursing has also gone international with a series of service learning trips to the Philippines in collaboration with the Center for Civic Engagement.

Adapted from an article in the Norwich Record by Jacque Day and C. T. Haywood ’12. The full article gives a complete timeline of the nursing programs at Norwich. Records in the Norwich University Archives such as course catalogs and the Nursing Department Records tell the story firsthand.

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