Compassion is at the heart of the University's mission and has been a critical part of our nursing curriculum from the beginning. An abiding philosophy of preparing nurses that have compassion for the people they serve makes a Duquesne nursing education unique. As we celebrate our first 75 years, the alumni, students, faculty and staff of the School of Nursing can look back with satisfaction and deserved pride on our story. That story shows that Duquesne nurses have, and will, be leaders at every level and in every facet of the profession of nursing.
In the Beginning
In the 1920s, the Catholic Hospital Association of Pittsburgh believed that additional education beyond the hospital based diploma programs was needed and envisioned creating a cadre of qualified nurse educators and administrators. Due to the tenacity of these early leaders that dream was realized in 1935 when a Department of Nursing Education was established at Duquesne in the College of Liberal Arts and Letters. The first director of that department was Mary Tobin, a veteran of the United States Public Health Nursing Service as well as a former instructor, director and commandant of the Army School of Nursing and an administrator of the Yale University School of Nursing. Just two years afterward, on March 15, 1937, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognized Duquesne's BSNE (Bachelor of Science in Nursing Education) degree, making ours the first nursing baccalaureate program in the state.
Then, in 1939, we obtained our first-but by no means the last-national accreditation. Today, the School of Nursing claims national honors, including twice achieving "Center of Excellence," a coveted credential granted by the National League for Nursing.
From its inceptions, the School of Nursing has had a pioneering spirit. The first Duquesne nurses took courses in public health, a field that Dean Tobin termed "the new concept of nursing." Public health would from that time on be an idea shaping the school's aspirations as well as an important component of the knowledge that nursing graduates gained at Duquesne.
By the mid-1980s, the School launched its MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree program, and in 1994, the nursing school began a PhD program. Three years later, that doctoral program became the nation's first online nursing doctorate, a change that put a PhD in Nursing within reach of nurses with work or family commitments that would otherwise prevent pursuit of advanced degrees. This online success prompted the school to make its MSN program a completely online program, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program was added in 2008, also completely online. Thus the pioneering spirit of the founders has lived on in the innovative approaches to providing access to graduate nursing education to men and women irrespective of schedules, family commitments or location.
The dynamic evolution of technology has been embraced by the faculty as a critical component of our educational endeavors. Our Irene Fritzky Nursing Lab contains computerized mannequins so sophisticated that they feign a range of diseases and conditions replete with groans and verbal complaints. This development enables students to learn in a low-risk environment, where digitally delivered feedback fosters learning, as well as teaching, and enables students to be active participants in the evaluation of their advancement.
The nursing school has always endeavored to anticipate needs and realign the nursing curriculum to meet them. Today, for example, both the undergraduate and graduate curriculums are imbued with ideas derived from the Synergy Model for Patient Care created by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, an innovative patient and family-centered approach to determining a nurse's characteristics and competencies.
Moreover, since 2003 a community based orientation to health promotion and disease prevention has been implemented throughout the communities of Pittsburgh, where all undergraduate nursing students learn about the needs of the patients where they live, work and pray. Students are assigned to specific neighborhoods in which they fulfill a portion of each semester's clinical coursework requirements. This focus on community health and primary care is not only an alternative to the illnesscentered approach of other nursing programs, this focus sensitizes our students to the broad base of health care needs, enables them to think about patient care needs beyond institutional walls and fosters appreciation of transcultural life styles. All of these elements contribute to creating the unique blend of education which produces the "Duquesne Nurse."