Development of nursing education in the Vocational Education System of Wisconsin, 1923-1985

Rita Shaker-Field, Marquette University


This historical study explains how centralized nursing courses for diploma programs were established; the development of practical nursing education; the development of associate degree nursing education; and the decline of practical nursing education in the Vocational Education System of Wisconsin. It describes the interplay of economic forces, the state education structure, and professional development on the local, state and national levels. The relationship of economic status, nursing supply and nursing education are presented. The study identifies key persons in the development of nursing education in vocational/technical education. Nursing educators, nursing students, health care administrators, and vocational education and political leaders need awareness of the interacting forces that have changed nursing education. The Vocational Education System of Wisconsin was instrumental in establishing nursing education in this State and needed to be investigated. The literature search revealed that the vocational education system of Wisconsin is without an organized history of its nursing education programs. Factors presented which affected the evolvement of nursing education in vocational education are: the forces of industrialization, the impact of economic depressions, the demand for nursing service in both World War I and II, the availability of federal funding for nursing education, the development of higher education in the vocational education system of Wisconsin, the modification in the delivery of health care and, the changes in the philosophy of providing nursing care. In the summary, conclusions and recommendations for future studies and nursing practice are formulated. Chronological lists of events and program information are in the Appendix. The significant findings are: nursing education in Wisconsin evolved from a semiprofessional to professional status with the major impact between 1965-1985; nursing and nursing education are sensitive to economic changes such as depressions/recessions and wars; nursing is a multilevel community service which is balanced between nonprofessional, semiprofessional and professional nursing; federal funding has had a positive impact on the growth of nursing education; both national and state studies on nursing education are effective in determining the direction of growth in nursing and nursing education; nursing education needs qualified nursing educators to maintain the balance of nursing service to the communities; nonprofessional and semiprofessional nursing have developed successfully in the vocational/technical schools; and finally, Wisconsin is unique in having a dual education system, that is, vocational education is separate from the Department of Public Education K-12.

Recommended Citation

Shaker-Field, Rita, "Development of nursing education in the Vocational Education System of Wisconsin, 1923-1985" (1991). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9226217.