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Shaping Nursing Knowledge and Practice: The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
By Virginia P. Dawson and Mark D. Bowles
Published 1998


Throughout its history, the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing has earned a reputation as an innovator in nursing education. This was not by accident. One of the key conditions of Frances Bolton’s generous endowment of a university school of nursing 75 years ago was that it should take an experimental approach to nursing education. Bolton said that even through there might be no assurance that a particular experiment would succeed, the school should be “free at all times to engage in other experiments, to cooperate with hospitals in these efforts, and she hoped the endowment would contribute to paying for these experiments.

The experimental approach to nursing practice and education has allowed the Bolton School to contribute and draw upon a growing body of nursing knowledge, while promoting some of the most daring experimentation in clinical teaching. Until the 1960s, nursing educators felt that instruction needed to be better integrated with practice. In response to this problem, Dean Rozella Schlotfeldt’s innovative “Experiment in Nursing” created a collaborative model for nursing education that enhanced the national prominence of the school. This spirit of collaboration remained a hallmark of the Bolton School throughout the 1990s and today.

Shaping Nursing Knowledge and Practice, a History Enterprises project, traces how the Bolton School has maintained academic excellence and positioned itself as a world leader in research. Throughout 75 years of shaping nursing knowledge and practice through experimentation and innovative collaboration, the Bolton School represents both a historical example and a future model for nursing education.