History of the Medical College of Georgia

College of Nursing

Aesculapian 1964
Aesculapian 1964

In 1941, the University System of Georgia, Evening College of Atlanta, which became the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia two years later, started offering courses for registered nurses to better prepare head nurses and nursing faculty. In 1943, the Board of Regents authorized the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens to establish the Department of Nursing Education. Both institutions strove to alleviate the shortage of nurses for civilian and military hospitals that existed during World War II. In 1945, the Department of Nursing Education at UGA offered a Bachelor of Science degree to registered nursing students. Through the UGA Extension Center, the Atlanta Division continued to offer nursing courses.

Nurses 1950 In July 1954, the Department of Nursing Education shortened the program from eighteen to fifteen quarters. Students could complete it in four years and earn a Bachelor of Science of Nursing. One year later, UGA changed the quarter requirements to fourteen. When the Atlanta Division of Georgia became the Georgia State College for Business Administration, the nursing courses discontinued. On January 1, 1956, the Board of Regents voted to transfer the UGA Department of Nursing to the Medical College of Georgia and renamed it the School of Nursing of the Medical College of Georgia. Miss E. Louise Grant, the director of nursing education at UGA, also moved to Augusta with the title of dean. In 1957, MCG awarded eleven women nursing degrees.

Phoebe Kandel Rohrer

Was the founder of the Nursing School at UGA. She was born in Greentown, Ohio. Miss Kandel graduated from Lakeside Hospitals Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing of Case Western Reserve University in 1908, and received the degrees of Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1924 and 1934. In 1934, she was named an Isabel Hampton Robb Scholar, and continued her education at the university of Cincinnati, where she studied Materia Medica and Sociology. She developed the nursing program at the University of Utah before coming to Georgia.

Mrs. Rohrer accepted the position of Head, Department of Nursing in Atlanta in 1944. In 1945, the first two graduates of the Nursing Department received BSNE degrees. Phoebe Rohrer took statutory retirement in June 1949 and died in 1982, having lived to the age of 99. She was instrumental in selecting her successor for leadership of the Nursing Department.

E. Louise Grant

Louise Grant Became the Head, Department of Nursing at the University of Georgia. She was a native of Hebbing, Minnesota, but lived in Augusta most of her life. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Nursing from the University of Minnesota, and a Masters Degree from the Teachers College in Columbia, N.Y. Before coming to MCG, Miss Grant served as Dean of the Medical College of Virginia for eight years.

In January 1956, the Department of Nursing transferred from the UGA to MCG, and became the School of Nursing, with Miss Grant serving as its first Dean. She oversaw the transfer of the nursing programs from the University of Georgia to the Medical College. She incurred many challenges and opportunities in incorporating an all female school into the predominately male Medical College, and in dealing with the needs of a fledgling baccalaureate program.

During her twenty year tenure as Dean, Miss Grant oversaw many program enhancements and other achievements within the School of Nursing. The Student Nurses Association of Georgia (SNAG) chapter was organized in 1955, and the School of Nursing Alumni Association was formed in 1958. Also in 1958, the first undergraduate nursing students graduated from MCG, and in 1960 MCG graduated its first male BSN student, Henry Kitchens. In 1963 the BSN program was granted initial accreditation by the National League for Nursing, and a common curriculum was adopted, with RNs required to take validation exams and all senior courses. The MSN program began at MCG in 1968. Miss Grant took statutory retirement in July of 1971, and died in 1993 at the age of 87.

Dr. Dorothy T. White

Became MCG's second Dean of the School of Nursing in 1971. She was born in 1923. Dr. Whites clinical credentials included a Diploma in Nursing from the Long Island College Hospital School of Nursing and practice as a public health nurse practitioner. She held a Bachelors of Science from Teachers College, Columbia University granted in 1955, and a Masters of Art from the same institution granted in 1958. Dr. White earned her Ed.D. degree at Teachers College of Columbia University in 1961.

During her tenure, the nursing program at MCG expanded greatly. The MSN program was granted initial accreditation by the National League for Nursing in 1973. The School of Nursing graduated its first black students in 1973, and in 1974 the Beta Omicron Chapter of Sigma Tau was chartered. Also in 1974, the Pathways Program for RNs began. A special curriculum was designed, and RN students automatically received 45 credit hours for previous nursing. The School began an active outreach program with the formation of the School of Nursing at Athens (SONAT) program in 1974, followed by the opening of the School of Nursing at Savannah (SAVSAT) program in 1975. Dr. White retired in 1976, and died that same year.

Dr. Neila A. Poshek

MCG's third Dean of the School of Nursing, was appointed in 1977. She was born in 1924 in Winfield, Kansas. Dr. Poshek received her Diploma in Nursing from St. Mary's Hospital School of Nursing and her B.A. from Southwestern College, both located in Winfield. She earned her MN from the University of Washington, Seattle, and her Ed.D. from the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Prior to becoming MCG's third Dean of Nursing, Dr. Poshek was Dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dr. Poshek began several projects to raise the quality of graduating nurses from MCG. The baccalaureate and masters degree programs were upgraded by adding more courses in the physical and social sciences. More opportunities for patient care experiences for students were implemented. Recruitment of PhDs and a research associate were made a priority. Dr. Poshek began a feasibility study concerning the addition of the doctorate program to the nursing curriculum. She also oversaw the renovation of the Jennings Wing of old University Hospital to include a nursing skills laboratory. Dr. Poshek resigned in 1979, and died that same year.

Dr. Mary E. Conway

Assumed the deanship of the School of Nursing as its fourth dean in July of 1980. She was born in 1923. She held a Bachelor of Nursing from Columbia University earned in 1947, and a Masters in Nursing Administration from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, earned in 1958. Dr. Conway earned a Doctorate in Sociology in 1972 from Boston University, where she was subsequently named a Distinguished Alumna.

Dr. Conway continued the Schools nursing outreach initiative with the inception of the Rural Preceptorship Program. In 1984, the RN Program was named PRO-TRACK to increase its marketability. Under the PRO-TRACK program, validation of prior nursing knowledge was required. Subsequently, validation of prior knowledge changed from teacher-made challenge exams to ACT-PEP exams to the Articulation model, with the PRO-TRACK name being dropped. Another major expansion for the School under Dr. Conway's tenure was the approval by the Georgia Board of Regents of the PhD. Program in Nursing at MCG in the Summer of 1986, and the enrollment of its first students in January of 1987. This program graduated its first two students in 1990. The School of Nursing's Center for Nursing Research was established in 1987. The following year the School received the first ($795,697) of two substantial grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for the Rural Health Outreach Program. Dr. Conway retired in 1990 with the title Dean Emerita and has volunteered with numerous community organizations since her retirement.

Dr. Vickie A. Lambert

Became MCGs fifth Dean in July of 1990. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 1966 with a BSN degree. In 1973, she earned her MSN from Case Western Reserve University, and in 1981, her DNSc from the University of California, San Francisco Campus.

In the year following Dr. Lamberts appointment, the Nursing School received another grant ($1.7 million) for its Rural Health Outreach Program from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In 1994, the Board of Regents approved the states only Nursing Anesthesia Program consisting of three practitioner programs in the areas of pediatrics, neonatal and family which began in the Fall of 1985. Facility expansion included the movement of SONAT to a new facility in 1991, and in 1995 the move of the School in Augusta to a newly renovated facility. The first nurse practitioner students graduated with the MN degree in June of 1996, and the first class of masters students from the Nursing Anesthesia Program graduated in December 1997. The RN to MSN/MN Program was approved by the Board of Regents in Spring of 1997 for implementation the Fall of the following year.

The School of Nursing outreach program continued to expand under Dr. Lamberts stewardship. In 1995, the RN to BSN Program via distance learning on the campus of Gordon College in Barnesville was approved by the Board of Regents. In September of 1997, the Board of Regents approved graduate program offerings at the SONAT campus. Dr. Lambert shepherded the School of Nursing through the University System wide transition from the quarter to the semester system. A Family Nurse Practitioner Program was offered by distance learning technology on the Athens campus beginning in August of 1998, and on the campus of Columbus State University in August of 1999. The RN to B.S.N. Program became available online in 2000. Dr. Lambert retired under the MCG Early Retirement Program in December of 2000, and currently holds the title of Dean Emerita. She remains active in the community.

Dr. Marlene Rosenkoetter

Was appointed as the sixth Dean of the MCG School of Nursing in 2002. Dr. Rosenkoetter was born in 1943. She received her BA degree in 1970 and her MEd degree in 1972 from the University of Missouri. She earned her PhD in 1979 from St. Louis University, then pursued her Nursing education with a BSN in 1981 and a MSN in 1983 from East Carolina University. Before coming to MCG, Dr. Rosenkoetter was the founding Dean of the Baccalaureate Program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she served as Dean of the School of Nursing from 1985 to 1994.

During Dr. Rosenkoetter's tenure, the RN to BSN to MN Program was implemented on the Columbus State University campus in August 2001. Dr. Rosenkoetter resigned the Deanship on March 31, 2003 but continued to serve as a professor until her retirement in 2016. Dr. Rosenkoetter passed away in December 2019.