History of the PLU School of Nursing

Prior to 1950, for two decades, pre-nursing at Pacific Lutheran College (PLC) was offered in cooperation with Tacoma General Hospital, Swedish Hospital, and the California Lutheran Hospital in Los Angeles.

The first indication that a bachelor’s degree with a major in nursing existed at PLU is identified in the 1945-46 PLC catalog. In the fall of 1950, the nursing curriculum was submitted for consideration by the State of Washington. On April 23, 1951, the State Board of Professional Nurse Registration gave temporary approval for a Department of Nursing Education at Pacific Lutheran College.

In September 1951, a cooperative agreement was signed between PLC and Emanuel Hospital, in Portland, Oregon, agreeing to establish a program in nursing. The clinical education would be at the Emanuel Hospital and its affiliated agencies.

Freda Al Peterson was the first Director from 1951 to 1953. During that time, R. Elaine Kraabel Morken was the Educational Director at Emanuel Hospital. When Freda Al Peterson left PLC in 1953, R. Elaine Kraabel Morken became Director and served from 1953 to 1967.

Ms. Kraabel Morken was followed by Dr. Doris Stucke, who served in the capacity of Educational Director from August 1967 until June 1982. Dr. Stucke was granted a sabbatical leave for the 1982-83 academic year, following which she retired to become professor emeritus. In July 1982, Dr. Moira Mansell was appointed and served as Dean until March 1989. Dr. Dorothy Detlor-Langan served as Dean of the School of Nursing from 1989 to 1997, with Anne Hirsch serving in the role of Associate Dean, Undergraduate Nursing Education and Dr. Cleo Pass as Associate Dean, Graduate Nursing Education. In 1997, Dr. Anne Hirsch assumed the role of Interim Dean for one year. In August 1998, Dr. Terry Miller assumed the role of Dean of the School of Nursing, serving until August 2014. Dr. Teri Moser Woo served as the PLU School of Nursing Graduate Program Coordinatorfrom 2012 2017 and was chiefly responsible for the development of the Doctor of Nursing Practice. Dr. Sheila Smith, RN, APRN, ANP-BC, served as Dean and Professor from August 2014 to May 2017. During academic year 2018-2019, Dr. Carol Seavor served as Interim Dean. Dr. Barbara Habermann, PhD, RN, FAAN was appointed Dean and Professor for the SoN in July 2019.

On September 17, 1958, full accreditation by the State Board of Professional Nurse Registration was granted. In April 1959, a consultation visit from the National Nursing Accrediting Service occurred. A new program which would allow nursing students to remain on campus for the entire four years was proposed, with full approval being received from the State Board of Professional Nurse Registration in January 1960. In June 1960, Pacific Lutheran College became Pacific Lutheran University. The Department of Nursing Education became the School of Nursing. In 1982, the title of Director was changed to Dean.

The undergraduate program encompasses three study sequences and is approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission. The undergraduate program qualifies students for the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree and certifies them eligible to sit for the registered nurse licensure exam (NCLEX-RN). The basic program is four academic years in length. A sequence for registered nurses pursuing the BSN was established in 1978. In the academic year 1997-98, the RN-BSN program began its phase-out. A new RN-B to MSN cohort program, for registered nurses with a non-nursing baccalaureate, was proposed to begin September 1999. Starting in the fall of 1990, an LPN-BSN sequence of study was initiated and implemented by Professor Shirley Coleman Aikin. This program, which allows LPNs to obtain the baccalaureate degree following completion of prerequisites, is the first of its kind in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.

In 1989, the faculty and Board of Regents approved a proposal for a program of study leading to the Master of Science in nursing degree. The program is four semesters in length, offered over a 2-year period. The first students began classes in February 1990, with the first graduates completing the program in May and August, 1992. The MSN Care and Outcomes Manager concentration includes focus areas in nurse education and administration.

In 2003, the School of Nursing enrolled its first cohort in the Entry-Level MSN program. The program is designed for students with non-nursing baccalaureate degrees to complete the graduate degree in nursing. Students’ progress through an intensive 15-month course load which qualifies them for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination in Washington State and progress directly into graduate coursework to complete the MSN degree. The entire sequence of courses for this generalist program requires 27 months of study to complete.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program was developed in 2013 and is the first doctorate at Pacific Lutheran University. The DNP prepares graduates in the advanced practice specialty areas of Family Nurse Practitioner and Psych Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Initial approval was received from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the Washington Nursing Care Quality Commission in 2014. The first DNP students were admitted in 2015. CCNE accreditation and full WA NCQAC approval were awarded in 2016.

In 1981, Continuing Nursing Education became a formal program within the School of Nursing. The initial director was Dr. Cynthia Mahoney. In 1994, the program was incorporated into the Center for Continued Nursing Learning (CCNL), and was directed by Dr. Patsy Maloney through May 2015. Dr. Lorena C. Guerrero served as Interim Director of CCNL from 2015 to 2017. In 2017, Ms. Lisa Johnson was appointed director of CCNL as part of her role as Director of Nursing Professional Development. In 2020, Ms. Deb Seguin was appointed director of CCNL.