From the Archives: Nursing Through the Years

In celebration of National Nurses Week, we look back at photos from the Rush Archives from the nursing programs and hospitals that eventually became part of Rush University Medical Center.

Reaching ‘Beyond the Rush Borders’

By Terry Peterson

In 2010, the chairperson of the Chicago Public Schools asked Rush to consider adopting a little-known school named Simpson Academy for Young Women — the only Chicago public school for pregnant and parenting teens. The school, located approximately three blocks south of Rush’s campus, had a history of insufficient access to prenatal care and maintained dismal graduation rates.

Most of the young women attending Simpson Academy are from low-income families on the south and west sides of Chicago. Rush made a commitment to help make a difference by improving access to prenatal and pediatric health care services and health care education in order to help the girls successfully reach graduation.

Together, Rush leadership, the College of Nursing and the Department of Multicultural Affairs and Community Service established the foundation for building a sustainable partnership with Simpson Academy that will improve the quality of life for these young ladies. The result of the partnership between Rush and the Chicago Public Schools has resulted in a full-service health clinic and day care center at Simpson Academy. We also established a homework center and a job shadowing program to provide students with the help they need to focus on academic achievement and discover careers in health sciences.

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Providing ‘Health Safety Nets’ For Chicago Students

By Marilyn Wideman

For 20 years, the Rush University College of Nursing has provided health care to the Chicago community through nurse-managed community-based health centers. A hallmark of these health centers is providing care where individuals live, learn and work. The Rush School-Based Health Centers are a prime example of delivering accessible health care where individuals learn.

The College of Nursing has administered a School-Based Health Center at Crane and Orr High Schools for more than 16 years and at Simpson Academy for two years. Crane and Orr have students in grades nine through 12 and Simpson Academy is for girls in grades six through 12 who are pregnant, parenting or both. All three are public schools, have student bodies from underserved populations and are located in neighborhoods with high poverty levels.

The Rush School Based-Health Centers are health safety nets for these vulnerable students. The clinicians provide care by involving teachers, providing health outreach programs within classrooms, cafeterias and hallways, and providing comprehensive care in the school clinics. Clinical services are provided by advanced practice registered nurses, physicians and large numbers of Rush’s interprofessional students. The services include physicals, immunizations, treatment of injuries, intermittent care, mental health services, prenatal care and health care for the children of the students.

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Readers Remember Luther Christman

“A remarkable leader.” “Ahead of his time.” “A maverick.”

They’re all references to Luther Christman, PhD, RN, emeritus dean of the Rush University College of Nursing who died on June 7, and they’re among the comments submitted to Rush InPerson by those who knew him.

Here are a few samples of the comments left on a previous post announcing a symposium in his honor on Nov. 6 at Rush University:

I will be forever grateful to Luther for his recognition of the importance of basic sciences to nursing education, practice, and research … and, on a very personal basis, his willingness to give me a chance!
— Jan Zeller

Dr. Christman was a true visionary. He developed ideas that people believed would never work. He succeeded with all of his projects and way beyond. It truly was a honor to next to him for many years. He gave me opportunities in the international nursing community which I will never forget. He was my mentor and a close friend after he left Rush. I will always be thankful for his direction.
— Jane Tarnow, DNSc, RN

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From the Archives: Nursing School Gym Class, 1920

By Heather Stecklein

In this 1920 photo from the Rush Archives, nursing students participate in a gymnasium class at the St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing.

The course work at St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1920 included scientific lectures by hospital doctors in anatomy, physiology, pathology and dietetics.

In addition, the curriculum required practical courses including gymnasium exercises, social dance and massage.

The St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing is a predecessor to the Rush College of Nursing. It operated on South Michigan Avenue from 1886 to 1956.

Heather Stecklein is an archivist with Rush University Medical Center. You can contact the Archives at or at (312) 942-7214.