History of the Wegmans School of Nursing

Cadet Nursing Students at Alfred University, 1943

Cadet Nursing Students at Alfred University, 1943

The Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher College was established in 2006 from the existing Department of Nursing. Its roots can be traced to a nursing program established as part of the Army Cadet Nurse Corps under a cooperative arrangement among Alfred University, Keuka College and Hartwick College in 1943. The Cadet Nurses Corps was eventually phased out nationwide as wartime needs receded. At Alfred University, however, the program was replaced by a four-year baccalaureate program officially in 1946. Alfred’s program evolved in response to shifting patterns of national health care needs and changing educational philosophies.

The connection between Alfred University and St. John Fisher College began in 1977 when Alfred University nursing faculty had offices on the campus and taught Alfred nursing students their major nursing courses here. This afforded Alfred students access to the clinical facilities of the Rochester metropolitan area. Additionally, Alfred University started a separate RN to BS program on the St. John Fisher College campus in 1977 to offer RN students living in the area a baccalaureate degree by taking nursing courses with Alfred faculty, but taking liberal arts and science courses with St. John Fisher College faculty. In 1989 Alfred University gained approval for a graduate program, a Master of Science in Nursing Administration, which was taught on the St. John Fisher campus by Alfred University Nursing faculty.

Subsequently, due to low enrollment in the Alfred University Nursing Program and the momentum of growth of the programs in Rochester, Alfred University and St. John Fisher College entered into negotiations to move control of the Nursing Programs to St. John Fisher College, and to close the Alfred University Nursing Program in 1991.

In response to changing community needs over the years, the St. John Fisher Department of Nursing, as it was called until the Wegmans School was established, offered a Graduate track in Nursing Administration and in High-Risk Home Health, which was modified to a Managed Care for High Risk Populations track. A Family Nurse Practitioner track began in 1993 (modified to Primary Care of Families in 2000); an Interdisciplinary Health Leadership track in 1997; and the Population-Focused Care in Specialized Practice in 2000. Currently, the School offers a master’s of science degree in Advanced Practice Nursing for family nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and nurse educators, a track begun in 2006. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) started in 2008. 

The critical nature of the nursing shortage coupled with increasing demands for baccalaureate and master’s prepared nurses in the Rochester area lead to the opportunity to expand educational offerings through a substantial gift to the College by Robert B. and Peggy Wegman. Mr. Wegman was chairman of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. This gift allowed the Department to transform into the Wegmans School of Nursing, increase its capacity, and build a state of the art facility. The Department of Mental Health Counseling joined the Department of Nursing in this new school.

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