History of the School

For more than 90 years, the University of Washington has been training nurses and breaking new ground in the nursing profession. UW President Henry Suzzallo introduced the first course in 1918: a summer class about public health nursing. Four years later, Seattle-area nurse Elizabeth Sterling Soule led the establishment of the Department of Nursing, which was among the first to be accredited by the National Organization of Public Health Nurses. In 1923, the department began offering a bachelor of science in nursing degree. In less than ten years, all nursing faculty were required to hold master's degrees.

The School of Nursing became an independent school within the UW health sciences department in 1945. It was the first nursing school on the West Coast to offer a baccalaureate program and only the second university-affiliated nursing school in the U.S. Elizabeth Sterling Soule was its first dean. When she retired in 1950, Time magazine called her the “Mother of Nursing” in the Pacific Northwest. She was inducted into the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 1986.

Today, our tradition of excellence continues. The UW School of Nursing has been a top-rated School of Nursing since 1984 (U.S. News and World report) and consistently ranks in the top 3 recipients for nursing research grants as well as having 99 percent of tenured faculty members hold Ph.D. degrees.