Historically, Charity Hospital School of Nursing was founded as a Diploma Program in 1894 through the cooperative efforts of the Charity Hospital New Orleans (CHNO) Board of Administrators, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul, and the Louisiana State Legislature. Eleven students enrolled in the first nursing class. The curriculum, which took 2 years to complete, consisted of lectures delivered by physicians and nursing “practice” in all patient care areas. In response to the expansion of medical knowledge and the increased responsibilities of nurses, the program of study was extended to 2½ years in 1913, and then to 3 years in 1915. The school participated in the Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II and its enrollment of 760 student nurses was one of the largest in the country. Refresher courses were offered to inactive nurses to help fill America’s need for nurses. Some milestones in the history of Charity include: Married students were allowed to enroll in 1964; the first African-American student was admitted to the school in 1965; and the first male students were admitted in 1971.
In 1989, in response to a nursing shortage in Louisiana, officials from Delgado Community College (DCC) announced their intentions to start an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. In July 1990, the nursing school was officially transferred from CHNO to DCC and renamed Charity School of Nursing. With the graduation of the last diploma class in May 1992, a total of 6,273 graduates had received a diploma from Charity Hospital School of Nursing.
The first class in the new 2-year ADN program was admitted in January 1991. The program was well received by the community and now graduates over 200 students per year. Pass rates on the national nurse licensing exam continue to be at or above state and national standards. Surveys of graduates and their employers demonstrate that graduates of the school are well prepared, respected, and sought after. The ADN nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) (last visit 2009).
Another milestone for this proud program is its recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The program graduated 162 weary, proud students in January 2006. The campus, one block from the Superdome and inundated by water and wind, welcomed fourth semester students back in November 2005. The program had compressed sessions from January through July of 2006 to help students “catch up” on the semester missed. CSN helped redevelop the area of downtown New Orleans. The motto was “Rebuilding New Orleans-One Nurse at a Time.”
The programs’ LPN to RN transition track allows admitted LPN’s the option of 3 tracks: 1. generic; 2. advanced placement via exam; 3. credit for experience with three semesters of nursing courses to complete.
In 1997, DCC merged with Louisiana Technical College. The merger resulted in the gain of a practical nursing program where a technical diploma in practical nursing is awarded upon completion of an 18-month educational program. Post Katrina the PN program at the Louisiana Technical College in Region I was closed with students now enrolling in the DCC PN program. In 2008 the PN program moved to the PN Center of Excellence at the technical center, but remains under the administration of the Charity Campus dean.
The present Nursing Education Building, completed in 1973, covers an area of 200,000 square feet and has eight floors. This facility houses traditional classrooms, two compressed video classrooms, skills labs, a media center with a television production studio, two human patient simulator labs, a library, a computer center, a gym, offices, lounges, conference rooms, and limited parking.