Program Overview

Gustavus Nursing Program


The history of today’s Gustavus Nursing Program can be traced back to the late 1800’s. The Swedish Lutheran Church had two projects in the late 1800’s. One was to establish a school and the other was to establish a hospital. In 1862, the church founded St. Angsgar Academy, now known as Gustavus Adolphus College. It is the oldest Lutheran College in the state of Minnesota. In 1883, the church founded Bethesda Lutheran Hospital out of an alumni's house in order to serve the many sick and destitute immigrants from Swede Hollow, a slum on the west side of St. Paul. In 1898, Bothilda Swenson founded the Bethesda Nursing Program and the first five nursing students graduated from the program in 1901.

The first class of nursing majors that graduated in 1960 meet up for a reunion.By the 1940’s Bethesda Nursing students spent a semester at Gustavus taking classes in ethics, chemistry, and religion on campus. In 1948, the Brown Report made a national statement that nursing education belonged at colleges and universities. In 1954, Bethesda built a dorm on their hospital campus for nursing students. Two years later, Bethesda Nursing program turned their incoming nursing students over to Gustavus’ new baccalaureate nursing program.

In 1960, the first class of nursing majors graduated from Gustavus. In the early days of nursing at Gustavus, students spent their first two years on campus, and their last two years in residency at Bethesda Lutheran Hospital in St. Paul. By 1986, enrollment in nursing programs across the country had declined. While several programs closed, the College of St. Catherine (St. Kate’s), Gustavus, and St. Olaf combined their nursing programs to create the Minnesota Intercollegiate Nursing Consortium (MINC). The MINC office was housed at St. Kate’s and nursing students from all three colleges took all of their nursing classes on the St. Kate’s campus.

In 1991, St. Kates withdrew from the MINC in order to expand their own program. The MINC office was moved to St. Olaf and students from Gustavus and St. Olaf returned to their own respective colleges for classes. This was the first time in the history of the Gustavus Nursing Program that nursing students lived on campus all four years.

The nursing uniformDue to growing enrollment and institutional differences, the MINC Administrative Board voted to dissolve the MINC in April, 2014. The Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College gave formal approval to the establishment of the Gustavus Nursing Program in April 2014.

National Advisory Board

Gustavus Nursing is guided by a National Advisory Board (NAB) including alumni and friends of the program and health care leaders from around the country. The purpose of the advisory board is to assist with strategic planning for the program and ensure the curriculum and clinical experiences provided in the program are the most innovative and up-to-date.

Gustavus Nursing LabNursing Resources

The Nursing Lab has many resources to aid students throughout their learning experience. They include:

  • Birthing Simulator
  • Pediatric Simulator
  • Adult Simulator
  • High and Medium Fidelity Mannequins
  • Simulation Lab
  • Nursing Lab

Four Year Plan

The Nursing Department has put together a recommended Four Year Plan for those who are interested in becoming Nursing Majors.