St. Luke's School of Nursing
80 years of Nursing Education
St. Luke’s School of Nursing was based in Racine’s first true hospital building erected in 1876 on College and 13th street. The architecture was old English, Gothic, and in 1971 was registered with the Department of the Interior by the State of Wisconsin Historical Society as a historical building.
St. Luke’s School of Nursing was organized in 1906 with a two year program, graduating its first class of two students in 1908. The first record of classes dates back to 1910. The ledger reveals that in 1914 there were ninety hours of classroom teaching for the two year nursing program. One instructor carried the entire teaching program with the assistance of staff physicians. St. Luke’s was the first nursing program in Wisconsin to admit male students and married students.
In 1986, the program of study was three academic years with a balance of classroom and clinical learning experiences. The student was seen as a learner rather than a worker. For the last class, eighteen plus St. Luke’s nurse instructors conducted the teaching program while humanities and science courses were taught by university faculty off-site. St. Luke’s was affiliated with University of Wisconsin-Extension and /or UW Parkside since 1950.
After 80 years of providing Wisconsin, the nation, and even the globe with 1469 distinguished graduates, including 173 men, St. Luke’s School of Nursing closed it doors with the graduation of the thirty-six seniors of the class of 1986.
As symbolized on the cover of the program, the pin was presented first in 1908. The following was printed in the program of the 1986 reunion detailing the meaning of the pin. The cross with its vivid red color links the nurse to the Christian concern of the body and of the patient as an individual. It is the symbol of hope in facing the mystery of human suffering. The gold edge about the cross signifies precious memories that bind us together in friendship and fellowship. The gold laurel wreath encompassing the cross symbolizes the victory of man. The only change made in the pin through the years has been to include Racine, Wisconsin to differentiate us from the twenty other St. Luke’s Schools of Nursing throughout the United States.
There has been no definite history or description of the school cap except that it was originally designed as it is, a rectangular shape of plain white linen cloth. The basic design never changed; however, the manner of folding the caps was modified for appearance sake as well as in keeping with hair styles. Originally pointed upward to attach the hat to the hair, the only ornamentation adorning the cap was the two pearl-headed hat pins. The pins were later placed on a slant to the center crease and in the mid-70’s the cap became an optional part of the uniform.
Since 1906 the uniform has gone through several modifications, and/or variations; however, one thing has remained constant, the color, a shade of blue with white. The original uniform was ankle-length with black cotton stockings and high-laced boots.
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