Nursing School History

Dr. Joseph M. Cleveland was the first Superintendent of Hudson River and believed that a nursing school be opened, because he felt the successful care and treatment would be affected by the caregivers.
The school of nursing was opened in1886. The female students were paid $10-$17 per month, and the male students were paid $16-$22 per month. Initially, the school was to train nurses to care for the “insane”, however as interest mounted for a full nursing education, the student nurses rotated to multiple local hospitals and facilities as well as some in New York City and Haverstraw, NY. They eventually took college courses at local colleges. The basics of nursing and psychology were done at HRSH as well as classroom studies in other medical areas. The nursing program was a three year diploma program. Clinical rotations included training at HRSH as well as the off-site hospitals.
The nursing school itself was housed in one wing of one floor of the massive Cheney building after it opened in 1952. It included classrooms, a practical laboratory, a library, historical room and teacher offices. The female student nurses were housed in Avery Home, a building to the right of the Main building, The male students, married students, and a few senior female students (if deemed “mature enough in character” by the nursing school principal, were housed in Poucher Hall which was located behind the Cheney Building.
The female student nurses wore traditional starched, below knee length uniforms with removable cuffs and collars until 1973, when a more modern blue and white shift type uniform was issued. At the end of the first year, there was a “capping” ceremony during which the Freshmen students were given their caps with one blue stripe and one yellow stripe on the side. During the capping ceremony, the students nurses entered the ceremony carrying lighted Florence Nightingale lamps Additional stripes were added at the completion of the second year.
After successful completion of all three years of training and final exams, the students received their school pins and final white caps with a black stripe across the front. They were then considered “graduate” nurses until completion of the two day State Board exams after which they would receive their NYS licenses and became Registered Nurses.
The nursing school began to phase out in 1974, and the final graduation ceremony took place on December 5, 1977. A total of 229 men and 833 women graduated from HRSH School of Nursing. They went on to take New York state boards and became registered nurses.