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About the School

Information for prospective students is provided in the West Penn Hospital School of Nursing Catalog, available online, as follows:

About the school

The need for professional nurses became acute near the turn of the twentieth century. In response, West Penn Hospital (WPH) developed a nursing education program.

Fifteen students were chosen and the West Penn Hospital Training School for Nurses opened on September 1, 1892, with a two-year curriculum. Ten students successfully completed the program and graduated on September 20, 1894. Because of its high standards and comprehensive curriculum, the School’s popularity grew quickly. By the end of its first year, the School had received hundreds of applications. Since that time, the School has graduated almost 6,000 students.

Leadership, innovation and growth have characterized the School’s programs and services. West Penn Hospital School of Nursing has the distinction of being the first nursing school in the nation to admit male students. West Penn was also one of the nation’s first nursing schools to receive accreditation from the National League for Nursing.

Dedicated to academic excellence, the School updates its curriculum to include advances in nursing and related fields in order to more thoroughly prepare graduates for their careers.

With guidance, students at West Penn Hospital School of Nursing gain experience in assessing patient needs and in planning and administering patient care. West Penn Hospital of Allegheny Health Network is the primary clinical setting for the School of Nursing. Work and study in this dynamic urban hospital environment of bring students in contact with professionals from a variety of healthcare disciplines and institutions. Other hospitals within Allegheny Health Network and selected agencies in Allegheny County provide opportunities for student enrichment in certain specialty areas. School of Nursing classrooms, learning center, simulation center, student housing , and administrative and faculty offices are located in the School of Nursing building on the campus of West Penn Hospital.



A philosophy is necessary to establish an atmosphere within which faculty and students work toward attainment of common outcomes. West Penn Hospital School of Nursing faculty is responsible for developing the School’s philosophy, which reflects established standards of the nursing profession. This framework is in alignment with the mission and professional nursing practice model (based on synergy theory) of West Penn Hospital.

We, the Faculty of West Penn Hospital School of Nursing, believe that nursing education prepares nurses who focus on promoting and maintaining optimum health of clients within the community. The graduate is accountable within the scope of the nursing profession in a variety of community settings that promote, protect, restore and rehabilitate the health of patients. The graduate, as an advocate and a health facilitator, assists patients to achieve and maintain optimum health through the patient’s own actions and decisions.


Nursing is an autonomous healthcare profession based on a holistic philosophy of health. The foundation of nursing is a body of knowledge derived from the biophysical and psychosocial sciences. Nursing is an art and a science that promotes human betterment and is based on theories and evidence-based clinical practice. Nursing utilizes clinical judgment and systems thinking to give direction to nursing actions that promote health, prevent disease, or restore and rehabilitate health. Nursing incorporates principles of critical thinking, communication, teaching and management in the provision of excellence in patient care. Nurses collaborate with patients and with other healthcare professionals. An appreciation for diversity is apparent as nurses promote health through the development of caring and empathetic relationships.


An individual is a valued being with inherent dignity and deserving of respect. As an open system with a uniquely determined internal environment, an individual functions holistically through constant interaction with the external environment. An individual is self-regulating and changes physically, psychologically, socially and/or spiritually in response to environmental alterations.


The patient is an open system and the focus of nursing. The patient is an individual, family or group and is the chief agent of health promotion. The patient is a subsystem of the community; the community is a subsystem of society; society is a subsystem of the world. The community consists of aggregates having common organization, needs and purposes. Society is comprised of dynamic communities that determine the nature of health care.


Health is the reflection of the patient’s physical, sociocultural, psychological and spiritual conditions and is defined by the client. Health is dynamic and evolves as the patient continuously adapts to the internal and external environment.


Learning is a continuous, lifelong process by which an individual exhibits a change of behavior resulting from cognitive, affective and/or psychomotor experiences. The School of Nursing faculty believe that the behavioral, cognitive and humanistic theories of learning apply to education. Learning is based on a hierarchy progressing from simple to complex and general to specific. Specific conditions of learning emphasized in the program relevant to the teaching- learning process include: conditioning, reinforcement modeling, transference, concept formation, psychomotor skill learning, readiness to learn, repetition, empowerment and learning to learn. The learner is recognized as an individual with basic human needs, motivation and capacity to learn, and a unique learning style. Integrity is valued and inherent to the learning process. The learner is expected to participate in the teaching-learning process by actively engaging in all aspects of the education. The learner is ultimately responsible for learning.

Nursing education

A culture of excellence in nursing education is a dynamic process that enables the student to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to practice the profession of nursing. The student and the faculty share their unique knowledge, experience, and creativity in a collaborative learning environment that emphasizes critical thinking and clinical inquiry. Faculty design learning experiences using a variety of teaching strategies in the classroom and clinical laboratory that take into consideration the diversity of individuals. Students and faculty value learning, autonomy, and the holistic growth of the individual. The teaching-learning process is a partnership whereby both the student and the faculty have rights and responsibilities that result in positive learning outcomes.

School goal

The goal of West Penn Hospital School of Nursing is to provide an educational system whereby students grow, personally and professionally, in the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to function as practitioners of nursing in healthcare settings that are responsive to individual and community needs.


Student learning outcomes

At the completion of the program, the graduate of WPH School of Nursing:

  • Integrates the clinical judgment process grounded in evidence-based practice in the provision of safe health care to patients.
  • Displays personal integrity and professional accountability as a practitioner of nursing.
  • Incorporates principles of communication into professional interactions as a healthcare provider.
  • Acts as a health facilitator to empower patients to make healthcare decisions, including health promotion and illness prevention.
  • Integrates the concept of holism in meeting healthcare needs of a diverse patient population.
  • Manages the care of patients within various healthcare organizations to promote positive outcomes.


Approval and accreditation

The School of Nursing is approved by the State Board of Nursing of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN):

The ACEN's goals are as follows:

  • Promulgate a common core of standards and criteria for the accreditation of nursing programs found to meet those standards and criteria
  • Strengthen education quality through assistance to associated programs and schools and evaluation processes, functions, publications, and research
  • Advocate self-regulation in nursing education
  • Promote peer review
  • Foster educational equity, access, opportunity, and mobility and preparation for employment based upon type of nursing education
  • Serve as the gatekeeper to Title IV-HEA programs for which the ACEN is the accrediting agency. These include some practical and all hospital diploma programs eligible to participate in programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education or other federal agencies

Verification for Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing approval and accreditation are on file in the School of Nursing office.

The School of Nursing is a member of the National League for Nursing, the American Hospital Association, and the Council of Health Professional Education of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

West Penn Hospital is approved by The Joint Commission.

West Penn Hospital is the first in western Pennsylvania to achieve Magnet® recognition status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the first to be redesignated Magnet (in 2012).

The prestigious Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence has been achieved by only about 6% of all healthcare facilities in the nation.

Non-discrimination statement

West Penn Hospital School of Nursing is in compliance with federal, state and city laws, regulations and ordinances governing equal opportunity and nondiscrimination. The School does not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, or progression of students or in the operation of any of its educational programs and activities. Equal opportunity to applicants and students is provided regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, non-job-related disability, age, sexual orientation/affection, veteran status, or other classifications that are protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other pertinent state and federal laws and regulations. The director of the School of Nursing is responsible for the implementation of equal opportunity in the School of Nursing.

Any student who believes he/she has been discriminated against may file a complaint with the Director, School of Nursing, or:
Office of Civil Rights
Department of Health & Human Services
Office of Civil Rights Region III
Suite 372, Public Ledger Building
150 South Independence Mall West
Philadelphia, PA 19106-9111


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