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KP School of Nursing History

The Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing began in 1944 when Dr. Garfield wrote the California Board of Nurse Examiners requesting that the Permanente Foundation Hospital in Oakland, and the Permanente Field Hospital in Richmond establish a three-year diploma in nursing.

During those negotiations, the Board asked whether the Permanente Hospital would share their facilities for students enrolled in their senior year of the Nursing Cadet Corps. From 1944 to 1946 students, from the Cadet Corps used the Oakland facility for clinical practice.

By June 1947, the Board of Nurse Examiners approved the Permanente Foundation Hospital in Oakland for the establishment of a School of Nursing with the express purpose of:

"Preparing young women in the art and science of nursing with special emphasis to be placed on the teachings of methods of protecting community health and on the skills and techniques of bedside nursing."

The Early Years

At its inception, a Board of Trustees from the Permanente Hospital and the Chief Administrative Officer controlled the School. The Director of Nursing was given an equal level of jurisdiction and control with the Medical Director. They had authority over the hospital and the School of Nursing.

The Director of Nursing, as well as faculty members, served dual roles of Nursing Education andNursing Service. Funds were set aside for the operation of the school by the Permanente Foundation Hospital, the Health Plan, and the Kaiser Family.

In the early years, students were assigned to the Permanente Community Hospital in Vallejo for the first six months of their pre-clinical period and attended Vallejo Junior College for basic science classes. The remainder of the student experience was obtained at the Permanente Hospital in Oakland, with the exception of a six-week affiliation at Highland Hospital Oakland for communicable disease experience.

The pre-clinical experience at Vallejo was discontinued after the class of 51-A completed that phase of their education. Arrangements were made with Holy Names College in Oakland to provide classes in general education as well as science. This gave students the opportunity to earn additional credits toward a Baccalaureate Degree.

In 1950 the school expanded its program to include a three-month affiliation in Psychiatric Nursing at the Veteran's Hospital in Palo Alto and contracted with Contra Costa Community College, Richmond for its general education and science courses.

In 1951, the Board of Nursing granted approval for affiliation in Tuberculosis Nursing and Rehabilitation Nursing at Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Vallejo, and the Kabat Kaiser Institute in Santa Monica. That year, the school sought and was granted an approval for an eight-week experience in Rural Nursing at the Permanente Hospital Fontana.

The curriculum continued to be refined and expanded to enrich clinical and learning opportunities for the students.

Changing Names and Changing Times

In 1953, the name of the Permanente School of Nursing was changed to Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing and became an independent institution. With this reorganization, the school appointed its own Director of Nursing Education. Faculty was responsible for full time instruction and supervision of the educational program. At this time, the school also received full accreditation from the National League for nursing.

Affiliations were secured for Obstetrical Nursing at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Francisco and Communicable Diseases at San Francisco City and County Hospital. Due to increased need for expanded facilities in Psychiatric Nursing, the school contracted Stockton State Hospital in addition to the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Palo Alto.

From approximately the mid 50's, clinical facilities remained stable and changes were directed toward revision of the educational program in accordance with state and national recommendations. The traditional experience of assigning students to the Diet Kitchen was deleted and theory in diet therapy was integrated into all courses throughout the three-year period. With a qualified Public Health Instructor on the staff, the school initiated a Home Visit Program and a part-time librarian was hired.

Curriculum review and revision was an ongoing activity and recommendations of the National League for Nursing and the Board of Nursing were incorporated into all course content and clinical experience.

In 1957, the School discontinued all stipends and tuition for students was established. The cost of tuition for a three-year period was $656.00.

In 1958 all students in rehabilitation nursing transferred from Santa Monica to Kaiser Foundation Hospital Vallejo and a full-time faculty person was assigned to this affiliation.

By 1960, there were further consolidation of student experience and it was decided to discontinue Tuberculosis and Communicable Disease affiliation at San Francisco City and County Hospital and to integrate this portion of the curriculum into the Medical-Surgical program provided at Kaiser Foundation Hospital Oakland. The program's outpatient department, home visits and observational visits were integrated at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Oakland. The obstetrical nursing program was also transferred to Oakland from Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco.

The End of an Era

During the 60's, the school continued on its excellent path of curriculum innovation and clinical experiences, always achieving the highest accolades from accrediting agencies. Faculty were attracted to the school because of its excellent academic standing in the state.Student scores in State Board Examinations consistently ranked in the top three for all programs -including university schools - in the state of California. By the mid 60's, it was evident that diploma programs were on the decline, and that four- and two-year state college programs were increasing at a rapid rate. A special Committee of Faculty and Board Member was formed to investigate how Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing could transition from a diploma program to a degree granting four-year college. All efforts to connect with one of the local colleges while maintaining our identity, as "the Kaiser School of Nursing" were unsuccessful. The National League of Nursing maintained that we needed to be an integral school within the college system and could not grant accreditation unless so designated.

It was with sadness and regret that the school graduated its last and largest class in 1976.

1065 students graduated from the Kaiser Permanente School of Nursing and have gone on to many achievements within nursing and other professions. This is a proud heritage, which we can share with future generations.