In the early years there were several attempts to start a nursing program at the University of Western Ontario, but funding was not immediately available. Nursing at UWO began as part of the Faculty of Public Health in 1920, which offered the Certificate in Public Health Nursing for students previously trained in hospital schools.

Artifacts courtesy of Museum London

The founder and first Dean of the Faculty of Public Health, Dr. H.W. Hill, saw great potential for the public health nurse. The curriculum at UWO was designed to compliment the hospital training school program by providing students with further knowledge and skills to be leaders in their field. Hill was determined to create a balance between theory and practical work. Over the years the program continued to grow and adapt in pursuit of this goal.

Artifact courtesy of UWO Medical Artifact Collection
Enrollment in the program more than doubled after the First and Second World Wars, as the demand for well-trained nurses increased. The post-war period opened many doors for women entering into the work force by allowing them to prove their abilities, while enforcing the need for quality training programs. There are many important contributors to the School’s development. In particular, however, Edith McDowell, Dean of the School of Nursing from 1947-1961, was responsible for much of the current organization of the program. She contributed to the improvement of clinical education and also led the relocation to campus, which enhanced student relations with the university.

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