The first graduating class of Lankenau's Nursing School, 1901
Lankenau’s nursing tradition began over 120 years ago in 1884, with
seven Lutheran deaconesses who traversed the Atlantic Ocean in response
to the call from John D. Lankenau. His hospital was in need of women to
manage its nursing service. Fifteen years later, in 1899, these
deaconesses, in particular Sister Magdalene Von Bracht, were fundamental
in organizing the Training School of Nurses, later named the Lankenau
Hospital School of Nursing.
From the earliest years, the school’s curriculum emphasized instruction
in “practical” or “bedside” nursing with 72 hours of floor duty required
of students each week. Instruction focused on bed-making, urinary
catheterization, bathing patients and hypodermics, with lectures by
physician instructors. In 1901 the first nursing class, consisting of
three students, graduated.
The course of instruction was eventually extended to three years and the
curriculum grew to include clinical experiences in obstetrics,
pediatrics and psychiatry. With the outbreak of World War II, the U.S.
Public Health Department approved Lankenau’s training school for an
accelerated curriculum to train US Cadet Nurses. By 1992—when the school
closed due to the increasing popularity of university-based nursing
programs—more than 3,300 nurses had graduated.
The Lankenau Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association was organized
in 1906. Even though the school has since closed, the Association
remains active and continues to serve its members—which include all of
the nursing school graduates—and Lankenau, as an auxiliary of the
Lankenau Hospital Women’s Board. Members gather together for the annual
reunion luncheon each spring and present a distinguished alumni award to
an alumnus who has made a significant contribution to the nursing
Each year, the Alumni Association gives money to benefit nursing
education. In 2010, the Association contributed $5,000 to Lankenau,
designated for the Nursing Research Leaders Fellowship and the Nurse
Research is a vital component of Magnet® Designation—a recognition of
nursing excellence—which Lankenau was re-awarded in 2010. A graduate of
the Lankenau Hospital School of Nursing, Margaret McClure, was
instrumental in beginning the Magnet program. She performed research in
the 1980s that identified the attributes that made nurses stay at a
hospital and showed that the mortality rates at hospitals with that
environment were lower. The Magnet Recognition program was developed
from that research.
The Alumni Association is not only generous in its services to nurses at
Lankenau, but also provides scholarships to its contributing members and
their children and grandchildren who are pursuing a degree in nursing.
With all of its accomplishments, and the support of the Alumni
Association, Lankenau will continue to shine brightly on the Main Line.
And with it, the legacy of the Lankenau Hospital School of Nursing and
its graduates lives on!
Lankenau's Women's Board
Send mail to:
The Women's Board of Lankenau Medical Center
C/o Sue Williamson
100 East Lancaster Avenue
Wynnewood, PA 19096
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.