Throwback Thursday: UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing celebrates 50 years

SAN ANTONIO – This week's Throwback Thursday takes a look back at UT Health San Antonio's School of Nursing as it celebrates 50 years of serving the local community. 

Dr. Kathleen Stevens, endowed distinguished professor and director of the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing, takes us back to the very beginning of the school's origin. 

“The early parts that I was here for was the opening of the doctorate in nursing, the PhD, and a number of centers that became a real driving force for our nursing science,” Stevens said.

This year, the school is celebrating 50 years. In 1969, the 61st session of the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 75 and companion Senate Bill 83 into law to establish the University of Texas Nursing School in Bexar County in response to a nursing shortage.

“The entire impact of this school of nursing, not only locally, but at the state level in terms of, you know, moving policy forward in public health, has been a real joy to watch,” Stevens said.

Dr. Eileen Breslin, dean and professor at the School of Nursing, said the school continues to change.

“(What) this school's proud of, most recently, is our Center for the Caregiver has very much got involved in advancing San Antonio being recognized as a dementia-friendly city,” Breslin said.

The school hosts caregiver skills training workshops and virtual dementia tours.

“We have trained over 440 individuals within our community. We have also had over 1,600 community members go through our training and getting education about how do we best care for our loved ones in a skilled capacity,” Breslin said.

Breslin follows a great legacy of leaders and recognizes the importance of the school's work.

“We really touch people's lives at very important times in their transition, and so I think we really have an important role in ensuring that we are the patient advocates. We really focus on ethics. We really are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Breslin said.

Breslin said 85% of all the students come from surrounding areas. She said the school is the largest producer of nurses with baccalaureate and graduate degrees in South Texas.

“Nurses have to be adaptable. We have to be innovative. Health care is always changing, and the school helps us start that line of thinking and understanding very early on by allowing us to have simulation centers and providing us really great learning opportunities that are just representative of the change in health care in terms of technology and evolution of what it is to be a nurse,” said Kimberly Tench, a graduate student.

“We've been very focused on achieving excellence focusing on preparing the best and the brightest and also the next generation of nurse leaders for the profession and the discipline of nursing,” Breslin said.

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Tiffany Huertas

Tiffany Huertas is known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.