GW SON Top-Ranked

GW SON continues to be ranked among the top 50 schools of nursing. GW is in the top 13% of ranked graduate nursing schools. 

US News & World Report also ranks our online MSN #26 out of more than 144 programs nationwide.

In a first-ever ranking of Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, we are no. 30, placing us in the top 20% of ranked programs. These top rankings reflects the quality of our student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, peer recognitions, and admissions selectivity.

History

The history of nursing education at GW spans more than 100 years. Each chapter in GW nursing history reflects the changing times of the nation, as well as the changing needs of the community.

Introduction

Nursing education has a long but little known history at GW. In 1903, a nursing school was established and existed until 1931, when it and five other schools were discontinued due to financial strains caused by the Great Depression.

But, all was not lost forever. Through the commitment of several nursing leaders, nursing education at GW resurfaced in 1972 through the commitment of several nursing leaders. Eventually, a Department of Nursing Education was established in 2005. The department offered BSN, MSN, and DNP degrees, and had a solid research portfolio.

Given the strong academic and research programs in the Department of Nursing Education, a proposal to transition nursing from a department to a school was developed. Creation of the GW School of Nursing (SON) was approved by the GW University Faculty Senate and the GW Board of Trustees in May 2010, with Dr. Jean Johnson as Founding Dean and Dr. Ellen Dawson as Founding Senior Associate Dean.

During its first five years, the GW School of Nursing established a strong presence in the US News & World Report rankings of online graduate nursing programs and nursing schools, more than doubled its enrollment, launched many new academic offerings, and made solid strides in research, health policy, interprofessional activities, and international engagements.

In May 2015, Dr. Pamela Jeffries was recruited as the second Dean and to lead the GW School of Nursing to the next level as the school continues to reach and achieve its full potential. 

The Early Years: The GW Training School for Nurses

The first nursing school at GW, the GW Training School for Nurses, was established by Superintendent Minnie Paxton in February 28, 1903. This was the same day the university’s new hospital opened.

Through the commitment of several nursing leaders, the GW Training School for Nurses expanded greatly and, in the end, graduated almost 300 nurses.

During this period, a Nurses’ Home was also built directly behind the hospital in order to better accommodate the growing number of employed as well as student nurses.  

All students of the GW Training School for Nurses were required to reside here, under the supervision of a resident matron. 

The GW Training School for Nurses was a three year diploma program, which was comprised of practical as well as theoretical instruction in the areas of “general, medical, surgical, gynecological and obstetrical nursing” (SON Bulletin, June, 1914).   While the practical instruction was completed at University Hospital, the present day George Washington University Hospital, all theoretical instruction was given at the GW University.

While the instruction, training, and housing was provided at no cost, the students were required to purchase their books and student uniforms, which included nursing caps.  The students worked most days, generally only being allowed a four break on Sundays, two hour break during weekdays, and possibly a half day each week, but only if work permitted.  The work these students completed including general nursing duties, as well as housekeeping tasks and cooking for patients.  For this work, the students were paid $12.00/month in 1928.

Burdened by the effects of the Great Depression, the GW Training School for Nurses closed after nearly 30 years of operation.

Nursing Education: Beginning Again

In 1973, a family nurse practitioner program was founded through the commitment of nursing leaders Mary Silverman and Diane Guida, among others, working in close proximity to the operations of the university’s emerging health maintenance organization, the GW Health Plan. The nurse practitioner program initially offered a certificate and evolved to offering a bachelor of science (BS) degree.
This nursing program was based in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and GW nurse practitioner students shared many courses with both medical and physician assistant students. The commitment to interprofessional education continues to today.

In 1983, continuing the tradition of innovation, the GW nurse practitioner program partnered with Catholic University of America (CUA) to allow students to take nurse practitioner courses at GW and earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree from CUA. After three years of this collaboration, GW moved to partner with George Mason University (GMU) in 1986. This partnership continued until 2010.
In 2002, Jean Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, then senior associate dean for Health Sciences, met with the nursing faculty to assess GW’s capacity to create GW’s own degree programs. The faculty moved forward to develop a MSN degree program in the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, with offerings in adult nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership and management, and clinical research administration. The Board of Trustees approved the MSN degree in May 2004, and the first GW MSN class matriculated that fall.
In 2005, approval was also obtained to create a Department of Nursing Education. As the first and only chair of the department, Ellen Dawson, PhD, RN, ANP, led the MSN program to accreditation in time for the graduation of the first MSN class in 2006. These students completed coursework on line, complemented by a series of on campus experiences. Continuing the tradition of innovation, this was among the nation’s first online nursing education programs

In 2007, the Department of Nursing Education faculty launched and received approval from the Board of Trustees for a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program. The DNP program emphasized the integration and translation of evidence-based practice, health policy, quality improvement, and systems thinking in to practice settings. DNP students completed courses on line, complemented by a series of on campus experiences. Continuing the nursing program’s tradition of innovation, this was the first DNP program in the region and among the first online DNP programs in the nation.
In 2009, a second-degree accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program was launched by the Department of Nursing Education and approved by the GW Board of Trustees. This full-time 15-month program was designed for students who already had a bachelor’s degree in  field other than nursing and who wished to pursue professional nursing as a career. The Accelerated BSN option continues to be based at the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn VA.

The first GW nursing skills and simulation laboratory was created to support these students’ learning experience, and was among the first such educational facilities in the region.
In addition to BSN, MSN and DNP degrees, the Department of Nursing Education developed and offered a range of certificates.

Research was another priority for Department of Nursing Education leadership and faculty. The department developed a sound research track record with nearly $5 million in sponsored funding since the department was founded in 2005. The Department of Nursing Education had both federal and foundation grant funding from sponsors such as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others.

GW School of Nursing: The First Five Years

Given the strong academic and research programs in the Department of Nursing Education, a proposal to transition nursing from a department to a school was developed.

Creation of the GW School of Nursing (SON) was approved by the GW University Faculty Senate and the GW Board of Trustees in May 2010, with Dr. Jean Johnson as Founding Dean and Dr. Ellen Dawson as Founding Senior Associate Dean.

Though nursing education at GW has always adapted to national and local needs, this new status gave the nursing program the recognition needed to reach for its full potential. In fact, as GW celebrated the first anniversary of the school in 2011, the results were already impressive with US News & World Report ranking GW among the nation’s top 50 nursing schools. Since that time, the GW School of Nursing (SON) maintained a strong presence in the rankings of online nursing programs and nursing schools.

During its first five years, the GW SON experienced phenomenal growth—in enrollment and academic offerings, research, health care policy, international programs, and service, among other areas.

About 350 nursing students were enrolled in Fall 2010. By Fall 2015, enrollment had grown to more than 800 nursing students.

Also, the GW SON faculty launched and developed many new nursing offerings, collaborations, and partnerships. Among the new academic offerings were adult-geriatric nurse practitioner, advanced family nurse practitioner, health care quality, nurse coaching and leadership, nurse-midwifery (in partnership with Shenandoah University), palliative care, and a Veterans BSN option that was launched with funding from a $1 million grant from the U.S. Heath Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Interprofessional activities continued to be a hallmark of GW nursing, as evinced by the DNP executive leadership option created and offered with GW School of Business, and the DNP and certificate nursing education concentration options created and offered with GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Additionally, the GW SON was awarded a $1 million grant from HRSA to increase the number of health care providers educated in how to participate effectively in interprofessional teams, with a focus on management of patients with multiple chronic conditions.

In response to a national call to action by the landmark report The Future of Nursing, and as a strategy to help increase the number of primary care providers in rural Virginia, the GW SON signed an articulation agreement with Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, and subsequently launched an innovative statewide agreement guaranteeing admission to students with an associate degree of nursing (ADN) from accredited community college nursing programs in the commonwealth. This Virginia agreement was described as a model for the nation by Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash. Soon thereafter, the GW SON established a similar agreement with Montgomery College in Maryland.

The GW SON developed two other key partnerships. First, with GW University Hospital and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), an ADN-BSN residency program was created. The residents are ADN graduates from NOVA, and earn a BSN degree at GW while concurrently working full-time as nurses at the GW University Hospital. Residents’ tuition is paid by GW University Hospital.

Second, a vibrant partnership, Washington Squared (W2), was developed with MedStar Washington Hospital Center. GW BSN students receive scholarship benefits and the promise of employment from MedStar, and MedStar clinical educators joined the GW SON faculty and are integrated members of the school.

Investing in experiential learning resources for students was a priority for the new nursing school,  which by 2015 had three skills and simulation labs totaling more than 10,000 square feet, more than 30 manikins and mock hospital bed stations and exam areas, a home health studio apartment, two private rooms, and birthing and pediatrics simulation. In this space, nursing students develop competencies in multiple simulated health care settings that cross the human life span.

GW nursing leadership and faculty remained committed to research excellence, attracting sponsored funding and new faculty with funded research. Among the sponsors during the school’s first five years were the U.S. Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), The Commonwealth Fund, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others.

The GW SON began evolving as the school of nursing for health care policy. Faculty were increasingly tapped as experts for policy issue panels, committee service, and special projects; conducted sponsored health policy research and projects; and, published in and served on editorial boards for top journals.

A mission of the GW SON was to improve the health and well-being of people and communities worldwide. This global outlook was reflected in the school’s expanding array of international visitors and delegations, programs, and partnerships. During its first five years, the GW SON engaged with China, Ecuador, Haiti, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and Thailand, among other countries.

Having successfully achieved its initial business plan and in conjunction with the university strategic planning process, the GW SON engaged in a collective strategic visioning and planning process for 2014-2018. The strategic visioning and planning was informed by an environmental scan and an assessment of how changes in the local community, nation, and world would affect the school in the years to come, and the university’s strategic goals and themes were also engaged. Building on this information and the GW SON’s strengths, the faculty and leadership interests, and identified opportunities—the faculty and staff collectively charted a vision to position the GW School of Nursing as a leader worldwide. 

                                                     

In May 2015, Dr. Pamela Jeffries was recruited as the second Dean and to lead the GW School of Nursing to the next level.