A Brief History

History of CUSON

Located on the Health Sciences Campus, Columbia University School of Nursing was founded in 1892 with Anna C. Maxwell as its first director. Since its inception, the mission of the School has been the preparation of clinically excellent nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and scholars. The School of Nursing was the first in the country to award a master's degree in a clinical nursing specialty (1956). More than 9,000 nurses have graduated since the School opened. The emphasis on clinical scholarship at Columbia University is particularly appropriate because of the interdisciplinary collaboration of the School of Nursing with the other professional schools in its environs. The School of Nursing shares the Health Sciences Campus with the School of Public Health, the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which includes programs in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Human Nutrition. Each of these schools adds to the richness and diversity of the educational experience of students and of the School of Nursing. School of Nursing faculty have substantial experience in curricula, instructional design, and research, and maintain expertise in their areas of teaching responsibility through participation in local, regional, and national conferences, involvement in scholarly presentations and publications, and faculty practice. Faculty involvement in scholarly and professional activities is substantial. A positive and supportive environment for these pursuits is maintained. The graduates of the School of Nursing are one of its major strengths. Graduates are recruited for leadership positions in practice, education, and management. Curricula are evaluated on a continual basis to ensure that graduates meet the needs of a dynamic society and advance the profession while maintaining high academic standards.


The faculty, representing all clinical nursing disciplines, believe that in a dynamic society, education for membership in a profession includes development not only of expertise in a field but also of social awareness. The professional nurse thinks critically, exercises technical competence, and makes socially significant contributions to society through theory-based practice. Nursing's role and responsibility to society are to establish and maintain relationships with clients that support and restore health and well-being. The professional nurse has the ability to diagnose and treat human responses to actual or potential health problems and to provide preventive health services to individuals and groups in a variety of settings. Belief in the integrity and worth of all human beings is basic. The professional nurse is viewed both as a responsible health care provider accountable for the quality of practice and as an agent of change in the health care delivery system. Nursing seeks to advance its contribution through research and collaboration with other health professions. The nurse acts independently and interdependently. The faculty endeavor to provide knowledge; to stimulate learning; to define issues; to serve as resource persons, administrators, leaders, and innovators in nursing through education, research, and practice; and to contribute to the development of human values. The faculty recognize that interests and abilities vary, and they seek to provide flexibility in the curriculum to facilitate the optimal development of each learner's potential. Learning is viewed as a lifelong process, and learners are expected to be self-directed and accountable for their performance.

Setting the Standard

  • The first nursing school to have awarded a master's degree in a clinical specialty.
  • The nation's oldest, continuous program in nurse midwifery.
  • The first nursing school faculty to gain full admitting privileges to a major teaching hospital.
  • The only nursing school whose faculty is deeply involved in collaborative practice with physicians at an academic medical center.
  • The only nursing school with a universal faculty practice plan requiring all faculty to practice or conduct funded research at the highest level of his or her credentialing.
  • The first nursing school to be designated a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for International Nursing Development in Advanced Practice. This designation gives the School the imprimatur to develop international exchange and collaborative research in advanced practice and health services research.
  • The first clinical doctorate, the DNP.

Excellence in Clinical Practice

Since its founding in 1892, Columbia University School of Nursing has built a tradition of clinical excellence. Today, the School of Nursing has clinical partnerships at over 200 clinical practice sites throughout New York City, and affiliations with three major medical centers: NewYork-Presbyterian, Mt. Sinai, and St. Luke's-Roosevelt. This solid clinical training ground gives each and every student invaluable experiential learning, a critical complement to classroom study. In addition, our clinical experiences allow students, while they are learning, to actively contribute to the health of individuals and communities.

Excellence in Teaching

Students at Columbia University School of Nursing receive training in state-of-the-art knowledge from our distinguished faculty members, as well as from more than 200 expert clinical preceptors in the metropolitan area. Our graduates, who will lead nursing in the next century, are prepared to work in community, hospital and home settings, in private practices, and in collaborative practices with physicians. Excellence in research Columbia University School of Nursing's objective is to create a body of research that will make a difference in people's lives, even before they are ill, with the larger goals of improving the practice of nursing and public health in general. Studies of particular interest include health services research, improving access to care, seamless care across practice sites, comparisons of the quality of care provided by nurse practitioners and by physicians, the role of nutrition in the care of infants with AIDS, and prevention and control of infections.

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