The Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing continues the history of nursing education started by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Peoria, Illinois, whose mission is to provide healthcare to the sick, injured, and poor and education for healthcare providers to the community of Peoria and surrounding areas.
St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing was organized in 1905, for Sisters only. The school's diploma program was approved by the State of Illinois in 1915, and opened to lay students in 1918. The School maintained continuous State approval of the diploma program. In 1950, the School received accreditation of the diploma program from the National League for Nursing (NLN) which continued through graduation of the last class in 1987.
Throughout its existence the School of Nursing contributed significantly to the profession of nursing through its graduates. From 1905 through 1987, approximately 3400 students graduated from the diploma program.
Throughout the years, the school developed, enriched and improved its educational program based upon the needs of health care consumers and changing trends in nursing and health care. Examples of responses to changing needs in health care and education were: provision of an accelerated program for the U.S. Cadet Corps; participation in an Exchange Visitors Program for students from China; and the provision of courses for affiliate students from other nursing programs in Illinois.
The College of Nursing was established in November 1985, with approval of the baccalaureate program by the State of Illinois. The College enrolled its first students as juniors in August 1986. The first class graduated in May 1988. The College has graduated 834 students as of December 2002.
The College faculty and administration are committed to quality education as demonstrated by institutional and program accreditation. The College was granted candidacy with the North Central Association (NCA) in 1987, initial accreditation in 1991, and continued accreditation in 1996. In March 1992, the College received initial accreditation of the baccalaureate program from the NLN. In November 1996, the National League for Nursing (NLN) Board of Review granted the College continued accreditation of the baccalaureate nursing program. In keeping with the Mission of the Sisters, the College of Nursing continues a tradition of excellence in nursing education.
In March 2000, the College received approval from the OSF Healthcare Systems Board of Directors to develop and implement a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. In May 2001, the College received approval from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) to offer a MSN program. In June 2001, NCA approved the program. The program of study is designed to provide baccalaureate professional nurse with current advanced knowledge and skill in Medical-Surgical Nursing with an option for either clinical practical or education.
The College offers through distance learning, some of the courses, which enable registered nurses the opportunity to fulfill the requirements for the baccalaureate degree. Summer 2000, the Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the use of video conferencing and web-based delivery all courses required by registered nurses. The College also received approval from the NLNAC in May 2001 and NCA in June 2001 to offer to registered nurses both baccalaureate and master's courses using distance education technology.