History of School of Nursing

Dr. Edna Locke Barney (1878-1954) was San Francisco State’s first college physician. She earned her M.D. from University of California and was active in women’s clubs. Her career was substantial: she made her mark as an instructor in surgery and surgeon in charge of the Children’s Surgical Clinic at the California Medical School and taught physiology and anatomy for nurses at the University Hospital; she went on to serve as Medical Superintendent at Children’s Hospital, San Francisco as well as president of the Welfare Council with the San Francisco Board of Health, Barney procured a space for a new child detention home (San Francisco’s Youth Guidance Center) in 1932.

San Francisco State’s first President Frederic Burk hired Barney in 1919. Dr. Barney did not have to speak to have authority she paved the way for quality health services for San Francisco State students. She guided many students out of some of their darkest moments of early adulthood. Barney became Medical Director in 1923, and the same year health education started when she taught physiology to future elementary school teachers.

Barney was memorable to students because of her direct honesty and wry humor. She began teaching “Community Hygiene,” in 1927, which covered federal, state, and city laws related to public health in the Biological Sciences. Barney carried a full teaching load in addition to her duties as College Physician, which included Elementary Bacteriology, Physiology and Personal Hygiene, Child Hygiene, and an interesting course (considering the dramatic changes in female college youth culture) called “Contributions of Science and Medicine to the Modern Woman.” The following year, four faculty members were added to the department. Sometimes her courses were offered under different departments.

By 1936, Barney was teaching a steady course load for the Natural Sciences including human anatomy, biological growth and development (a euphemism for sex education), nutrition, and physiology. Barney saw a need for nursing training at the State College level, and had the vigor to follow this vision through so that SF State was the first to institute a degree program for nurses in the State Colleges. In 1938, a two-year pre-nursing program was offered to students interested in transferring to the nursing schools at either University of California or Stanford University. Barney organized the Pre-Nursing Club to bring nursing students together for social and educational activities. This group turned into Alpha P1 Nu. Pre-nursing curriculum of sixty units was offered in 1939 under the Liberal Arts A.B. degree called Nursing Education that included courses that Barney launched.

During World War II, San Francisco State expanded its curriculum to train technicians in laboratory science for Army hospitals; technical and pre-professional liberal arts curriculum was offered for nursing, dental, medical, pharmacy, and physical therapy. Due to a shortage of nurses on the home front, Barney asserted that the duty of women during the war was “to see that we do not become a burden to anyone else. Our first line of defense is to keep our family physically well.” Though she worked in a maledominated profession, Barney frowned upon women taking men’s jobs during the war: It has been a joke and a failure. The girl in the service station thinks more about her fingernails than of cleaning the windshield of your car. If women are going into these jobs, they had better streamline their looks and their minds in preparation for them.”

In 1945, the State of California passed legislation allowing State Colleges to grant general credentials for teaching in secondary schools; the nursing curriculum within the Division of Natural Sciences for graduate nurses’ program in addition to pre-nursing students going into other programs. Summer courses were offered in home nursing and first aid certification.”

Barney worked under three presidents and became emeritus faculty in 1946. The Graduate nurses’ program offered in 1951 allowed students who earned the RN. at accredited nursing schools to obtain additional training and field work for teaching nursing education. In 1953, President J. Paul Leonard established an Advisory Committee on Nursing Education made up of leaders in the nursing community representing the Board of Nurse Examiners, the director of the School of Nursing at Permanente (Kaiser) Hospital, the Chief of Nursing Services at the Veterans Administration Hospital, the Chief from the Bureau of Public Health Nursing, nursing professors from the University of California, and the director of the School of Nursing at Mount Zion Hospital to formulate policies and cross divisional curriculum for San Francisco State under the Division of Education. Barney died November 6, 1954. By 1955, San Francisco State University Nursing Program began as a School Nurse Program. A nursing B.S. was marketed for men and women interested in nursing and prepared students for examination by the State Board of Nursing Examiners as well as a nursing B.A. for R.N.s seeking more education and a M.A. in Education, unspecified.

The early Department of Nursing was placed in the Division of Education (now known as the College of Education) because of the emphasis on school nursing. The school nurse emphasis was discontinued in the mid-1960s due to the need for a basic baccalaureate program that prepared nurses for all practice settings. Funded by a curriculum development grant from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the baccalaureate program underwent a major curriculum revision during the years 1975-1978. The Department of Nursing remained until 1994 when a reorganization of the University resulted in the creation of the College of Health and Human Services and with it, the creation of the School of Nursing.

Today, the School of Nursing is one of seventeen schools, programs and departments within the College of Health and Human Services at SF State. The Department of Nursing was initially housed in the Education building, or Frederick Burk Hall as it is called today. In 1970, the Department of Nursing moved to Mary Ward Hall until 1972, when the Department was moved to the Science building. Now known as the School of Nursing, the School moved once more to its final home in Burk Hall building in 1996. School of Nursing and its faculty transformed a single focus bachelor’s degree program (school nursing) into a state-of-the-art curriculum that prepares nurses for practice in the 21st century. The equally innovative graduate program prepares nurses who manage health care systems, provide nursing education, and deliver advanced practice nursing services (as nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists).

School of Nursing is a leader in developing new and creative programs that are responsive to the healthcare needs of the people of California and the nation. The School is acutely aware of its vital role in preparing culturally competent nurses and embraces diversity and demonstrates this commitment through its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic student and faculty population.

Master’s Program in Nursing

In the spring of 1979, the Department of Nursing conducted a comprehensive feasibility study in order to establish the need and availability of resources for the development of the Master of Science in Nursing Degree. The study revealed a strong community need for a Master’s Degree program designed for the working nurse to prepare leaders for health care agencies in the areas of Nursing Management/Administration and Teaching/Inservice Education. The first class of students was admitted in January, 1984. In 1986, expansion of the MSN program from 30 to 36 units to accommodate changing curriculum needs was approved. In 1988, two new entry tracks were added to the MSN program: (1) for RNs with a BA/BS in a field other than nursing, and (2) the first generic master’s in nursing program west of the Mississippi. In the generic master’s program, non-nurse college graduates complete the undergraduate nursing courses and the master’s curriculum in three years. An emphasis in Case Management/ Long Term Care was added in 1991 and a Family Nurse Practitioner emphasis was added in 1994 and an emphasis in Entrepreneurial Leadership in 1996. The School of Nursing offers a certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner for nurses with a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing and one in Entrepreneurial Leadership. The master’s program was initially accredited by the National League for Nursing in 1988, then by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission until 2003, and by the Collegiate Commission on Nursing Education since 2003. Today there are four emphases for study: Entrepreneurial Leadership, Clinical Care Management, Public Health and Community Nursing, and Family Nurse Practitioner.

Nu Psi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, International

The faculty and students of the Nursing program established a Nursing Honor Society in 1986. Through the collaborative efforts of the faculty, students, and community members, it was chartered as the Nu Psi chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (the International Honor Society of Nursing), in April, 1994. The society began with approximately 150 charter members. Alpha Eta, located at University of California School of Nursing mentored the SF State Honor Society and was instrumental in the founding of the chapter.