"Dr. Nurse: The Contested Rise of Nursing PhD Programs"
Monday, March 7, 2016 - 12:20pm
555 Diehl Hall
Dominique Tobbell
History of Medicine
University of Minnesota

Even before the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, U.S. policy analysts in 1963 predicted that the country was facing a critical nursing shortage. The Surgeon General’s Consultant Group on Nursing recommended a top-down approach, calling for the expansion of existing and establishment of new nursing schools. Planning for an increase in nursing schools went beyond the basic bricks and mortar. These schools needed to be staffed with qualified faculty members – nurses with advanced graduate degrees. Thus began a concerted effort on the part of nursing educators and the U.S. P.H.S. Division of Nursing, as well as a multitude of local, regional planning initiatives to create nursing Ph.D. programs. This paper examines these regional efforts—alongside the work of the Division of Nursing—to increase the number of doctorally prepared nursing during the 1960s and 1970s and forestall the nursing shortage. In doing so, it asks how nursing educators and regional planners sought to overcome the need for expanding PhD funding amidst declining federal support and opposition from university administrators who claimed nursing did not have a sufficient theoretical foundation to warrant a PhD program.