The Nurses' Alumni Association
The Nurses' Alumni Association Auxiliary represents over 3,300 graduates who attended the Lankenau School of Nursing from 1899 to 1992. It was built on the Lutheran Deaconesses’ legacy driving nursing education and nursing excellence through the years.
Lankenau's nursing tradition began in 1884, when seven Lutheran Deaconesses 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, led by 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. The first nursing class, consisting of three students, graduated in 1901.
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 U.S. 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.
Lankenau Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association
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 living nursing school graduates — and Lankenau, as an auxiliary of the Lankenau Hospital Women's Board. Members gather together each spring for the annual reunion luncheon and present a distinguished alumni award to an alumna who has made a significant contribution to the nursing profession.
Each year, the Alumni Association donates funds to benefit nursing education. The Alumni Association is generous in its services to nurses at Lankenau Medical Center and provides scholarships to its contributing members as well as 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!