Friday, April 29, 2011

OHSU School of Nursing Centennial Gala

For those of you who have not heard, this year is the 100th anniversary of nursing education at OHSU. Last night I attended a gala at the Portland Art Museum to celebrate with nurses, administrators and friends and family. It was a wonderful venue and we were treated to wine, micro-brews and hearty hors d'oevres.

There was a wonderful presentation in the Grand Ballroom where Barabara Smith Conrad, internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano, gave a wonderful performance of spirituals, accompanied by her dear friend on the piano and a protege soprano (sorry, I didn't catch their names). We were enthralled, standing to applaud through-out the show. Ms. Conrad proclaimed her love for Michael Bleich, Dean of the School of Nursing. She descended the stairs from the stage to sing a love song to him; they gazed into one another's eyes and at times embraced. As the song ended, they kissed. After her performance, Dean Bleich, still flushed, confessed that he had never been sung to before and that his temperature was just beginning to cool down. This, to the applause and hoots and hollers from the audience.

From the brochure, we have short vignettes that tell the history of the school:

Education: "Multnomah Hospital Training School opened in 1910... On June 12, 1911, seven nurses graduated in a ceremony at First Congregational Church. In 1926, a four-year bachelor's degree was offered. In 1964, Eugene Mitchell was the first man to earn a bachelor's degree and the first African American graduate was Beatrice Gilmore in 1955."

Leadership: "1911, Grace Phelps, second director of the Multnomah Training School for Nurses helped pass Oregon's Nurse Practice Act to regulate licensing, training and employment. Oregon passed the Ten-Hour Law, among the nations's first legislation protecting workers from exploitive conditions. 1920: Sadie Orr Dunbar recruited Elnora Thomson to lead public health education in Oregon. In the 1930s, public health education was offered in the school. In 2010, Michel Bleich co-authored, The Future of Nursing, a comprehensive Institute of Medicine report. SON faculty have shaped national policy in elder care, midwifery, licensure and other areas."

Public Health: "1906: Portland nurses helped San Francisco eathquake survivors. Many public health nurses provided primary care during the Great Depression. In 1979, a grant from the Division of Nursing of the U.S. Public Health Service helped found Eastern Oregon University's nursing program. By 1995, 70 percent of graduates practiced in rural areas."

Research: "1970: The first faculty with doctorates were appointed. May Rawlinson ,'43 and Maxine Patrick were the first Ph.D.s on the School Nursing Faculty. At the time, only 1 percent of nursing faculty nationwide held Ph.D.s. 1981: The first research conference was held. Dean Carol Lindeman, RN, Ph.D, F.A.A.N., was a nationally known researcher. During her tenure, the SBHE approved research as an official mission of the school."

The brochure goes on to say, that over the last 100 years, the OHSU School of Nursing has never lost their focus - "using their energy, skills and talents for the ultimate good of patients, families and communities."

Who doesn't love nurses. They take care of us and from an archivist's point of view, they're some of the best record keepers around. I felt so very proud to be there and to have been a part of providing materials to the researchers who spent time in our reading room, researching the history of the school.

As Dean Bleich was thanking people for all that they had done to make the School of Nursing a success, he had a long list of accolades and remarks of appreciation for those who had made the centennial celebration possible; I almost fell out of my chair as I heard him announce the Historical Collections & Archives' wonderful exhibit on Grace Phelps, RN that is now on display in the OHSU Library. I am still smiling.

By Monday, you are welcome to visit the online version of the exhibit here.

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