School of Nursing Centennial


Brief history of the UW School of Nursing

The University of Washington (UW) School of Nursing was one of the first nursing schools on the west coast. In 1918, an international flu epidemic prompted the university to partner with the Washington State Tuberculosis Association to offer public health courses to train nurses who could respond to the outbreak. Early graduates improved health care in communities across the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

Elizabeth Sterling Soule became dean of the School of Nursing in 1921. Soule developed a partnership with Seattle’s brand-new Harborview Hospital, wherein nursing students received clinical training at the hospital. This partnership between a university nursing school and a hospital was novel at the time, but it is now common. The UW began offering a baccalaureate degree in nursing in 1923, the first university on the west coast to do so. Soule later developed a four-year integrated nursing major, the first of its kind at a public university. Upon Soule’s retirement in 1950, Time magazine called her “The Mother of Nursing in the Pacific Northwest.”

In the 1960s, Dean Mary Tschudin and faculty members Marjorie Batey and Katherine Hoffman developed a nursing research program at the UW that helped to define nursing as a research-based discipline. Faculty in subsequent years conducted ground-breaking research that transformed the field of nursing. Innovations include Kathryn Barnard’s breakthroughs on infant mental health care, Betty Giblin’s establishment of the nation’s first nursing school sleep lab, and Jeanne Quint Benoliel’s founding of the field of palliative and hospice care.

The UW School of Nursing consistently ranks as one of the top nursing schools in the nation. Among its many research centers are the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development, the de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging, the Center of Innovation in Sleep Self-Management, and the Center for Global Health Nursing. Alumni from the UW School of Nursing are leaders in the nursing field across the globe and engage in research, teaching, military service, public health, advocacy, and other forms of transformative health care.

Learn more