Janet Holloway stands in front of a new display of nursing history.
Janet Holloway helped create a display tracing the history of nursing education in the region at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute.

Standing in front of a photo of a brick building, Janet Holloway, WSU Associate Professor Emeritus, points to a window and says, “my room was right in the corner.”

Holloway, 83, is showing where she lived as a nursing student in Spokane in the mid-1950s, when then-Washington State College joined with St. Luke’s Hospital to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing – a program truly ahead of its time.

Nursing students spent their first two years in Pullman, as many students in the WSU College of Nursing do now. They moved to Spokane to spend their final two years at St. Luke’s Hospital and other agencies, but unlike present-day students, the nurses lived together in Finch Hall on North Summit Boulevard. There, students’ room, board, and even laundry were provided.

The photo, plus vintage nurse uniforms, medical equipment and other memorabilia gathered by members of the St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association, is in a display at what’s now St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute. Holloway helped research the written accounts and timeline that accompany the display, which was created by Betty Adams, a 1947 graduate, and designed by architect Glenn Davis, whose mother graduated from the St. Luke’s nursing program in 1940.

Holloway said she was motivated in part by a desire to remind the public that when most nurses were educated in three-year diploma programs offered by hospitals, Washington State had a baccalaureate nursing degree. It was offered from 1951-1958; at that time, “both St. Luke’s Hospital and Washington State College made the mutual decision to discontinue the BSN program for financial reasons,” as the display notes. St. Luke’s went back to offering a nursing diploma, with that program ending in 1966. In 1968, the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education was founded, which became the WSU College of Nursing in 1999.

Holloway, who graduated from Washington State College in 1955, went on to teach at ICNE – an opportunity made possible, at that time, because of her BSN.

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute is located at 711 S. Cowley St., in Spokane.