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History, Mission & Philosophy

History, Mission & Philosophy

School of Nursing History

School of Nursing History

The rich history Avila University enjoys is rooted in the Sisters of St. Joseph, founded in LePuy, France in 1650 to respond to the needs of society by serving their neighbors.

In 1836, six Sisters arrived in America and traveled the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri and settled in a small town south of the city known as Carondelet. These women established several schools and were soon known as the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJs).

In 1866, six Sisters came to Kansas City, Missouri and opened the first private high school for young women, St. Teresa's Academy.

In 1916, the academy administration chartered the first private college for women in Kansas City, St. Teresa's College. The college offered a two-year program leading to an Associate of Arts Degree. Fifteen years later, St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing, also associated with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, became affiliated with the college and nursing students were enrolled in basic science and humanities courses.

In 1940, the college became the first four-year, liberal arts institution for women in Kansas City with professional programs in nursing, education, and business and was renamed The College of St. Teresa. The growth of the College of St. Teresa resulted in a move to its present campus in 1963.

In honor of St. Teresa of Avila, the college changed its name to Avila College. Seeking to serve a diverse population, the college became co-educational in 1969, and established graduate programs in business, education, and psychology in 1978.

Due to its continued growth as a comprehensive institution of higher learning, offering undergraduate and graduate programs, Avila College became Avila University in 2002; departments became schools or colleges and department chairs became deans. Subsequently, the department of nursing became the school of nursing and the department chair became dean.

In 1974, Avila became the first liberal arts college to establish a Sigma Theta Tau, International chapter—Beta Lambda. Avila and the University of Central Missouri created an at-large chapter in 2008. With declining activity and following much discourse, the chapter was closed in 2012.

Since it began in 1916, Avila University has been committed to excellence in teaching and learning in an environment that respects the uniqueness of each person and stresses responsible life-long contributions to the community. This commitment reflects the mission and purpose of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who continue to sponsor Avila University. The university was initially accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 1946. The university has enjoyed continuous accreditation since then. At its last comprehensive visit in 2008, Avila University received continued regional accreditation for a period of ten years. The nursing program received its first accreditation from the Missouri State Board of Nursing (MSBN) in 1948, the National League for Nursing (NLN) in 1966, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in 2000. The program has had continuous accreditation since that time. In 2010, the program applied for and was awarded reaccreditation by the CCNE for the maximum time period of 10 years. The program has full approval by the MSBN.

Nursing education at Avila University provides the academic preparation of nurses who contribute to the health care of those in need. This educational vision was made possible through the efforts of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet mission at St. Joseph Hospital (now St. Joseph Medical Center) and many others at the College of St. Teresa and Avila College (now Avila University) who valued the importance of academic preparation for nursing practice. The Sisters of St. Joseph established the St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in 1900 under the direction of Sister Irmenia Dougherty. This school of nursing became chartered in 1901. The development of the four-year nursing program originated after the close of World War II. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet recognized the need for advanced educational preparation for women in nursing and formulated plans to establish a department of nursing within the college.

Prior to September 1960, the college offered three programs in nursing: a three-year diploma program, a basic baccalaureate program, and a supplementary (continuing education) program for graduate registered professional nurses. In 1958, a decision was made to discontinue the three-year diploma program and to revise the curriculum of the baccalaureate program to enable the student to complete the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in four academic years. These changes took place in 1960. From 1970 to 1998 the Department of Nursing offered a RN to BSN degree. This program was discontinued due to low enrollment. Due to increased demand for a highly education nursing workforce, the RN to BSN program was reestablished beginning Fall 2012. The SON continues the tradition of excellence in nursing through its undergraduate curriculum which provides the health care community excellent, well-educated nurses prepared to adapt to the ever evolving health care environment.

School of Nursing Mission

School of Nursing Mission

The mission of the School of Nursing, guided by our Catholic identity, is to prepare nursing graduates for generalist practice in a complex and ever-changing health care environment.  Graduates will:

  1. discover, understand, and appreciate the human responses and varied perceptions of life experiences;
  2. understand the nursing role in socially and globally responsible health care;
  3. participate with others in achieving health and optimal responses to life experiences through safe and quality patient-centered care, evidence based practice, and effective communication; and
  4. assume professional nursing roles of provider of care, designer/manager/coordinator of care and member of the interprofessional team who advocates for the patient and the nursing profession.
School of Nursing Philosophy

School of Nursing Philosophy

The School of Nursing at Avila University supports and is consistent with the values of the larger Avila Community including excellence in teaching and learning; the worth, dignity, and potential of each human being; diversity and its expression; the development of the whole person; right relationships, with God, self, others, and creation; service with the dear neighbor.  In addition, the School of Nursing is responsive to changing demographic, academic, technological, and practice environments including the ongoing incorporation of professional guidelines and evidence-based findings into the academic program.

 The professional nurse is educated through a baccalaureate of science in nursing degree.  This educational process includes preparation in the liberal arts, behavioral, biological, and natural sciences, communication, and technology, as pre-requisites for nursing courses.  This process prepares the graduate for entry into generalist practice and facilitates professional role competency as provider of care, designer/manager/coordinator of care, and member of the interprofessional team who advocates for the patient and the nursing profession.  To best meet these role expectations, the professional nurse must embrace the values of caring and continuous professional development, and recognize varied perceptions of and responses to life experiences that people encounter.  The professional nurse respectfully acknowledges individual differences and the importance of these differences in achieving health and optimal responses to life experiences.

 Health is viewed holistically and globally, encompassing individual, families, communities, and populations with varying degrees of health- or illness-related needs and perceptions.  Health is determined by the perceptions of the individual.  Health includes promotion of wellness as well as the treatment and prevention of illness and the impact of social determinants of health on individuals and populations.  The nurse’s role in promotion of wellness is becoming increasingly important to our society.

Person is defined broadly as individuals, families, communities, and populations.    Health and illness related needs are encountered in broad and diverse environments including home, school, hospital, clinic, neighborhood, and faith-based settings.  The curriculum is based on the belief that all individuals have the ability to self-determine and to impact their health and environment.

Teaching strategies facilitate students to make connections between the liberal arts, sciences, and nursing practice.  Effective teaching occurs in a supportive environment. Teaching/learning strategies facilitate active learning and are collaborative.  Clinical experiences, in a variety of environments, including simulation, are designed to facilitate application of learned material to the care environment.  Learning is evidenced through assessment of the student’s increasing knowledge base, ability to apply such knowledge to practice, and personal, social, spiritual, and professional development.  Program outcomes assessment and constituency satisfaction guide curriculum decisions.

With an ever-increasing body of knowledge, new evidence for best practices, and shifts in the type of patients and settings in which nurses provide care, the curricula and courses provide opportunities for students to search, retrieve, critique, and synthesize information for making situated clinical judgments.  In other words, the faculty believe students are best prepared to practice if they think conceptually.  Giddens, J.F. (2017).  Concepts for Nursing Practice (2nd ed.).  Elsevier: St. Louis.

Responsibility for learning resides in the student. Lifetime learning requires self-direction, self-motivation, continuous acquisition of new knowledge and skills, use of effective and facilitative communication, clinical reasoning, and evidence based decision-making.  Throughout their baccalaureate education, students make connections between their liberal arts and science courses to nursing practice. Evaluation of learning focuses on achievement of effective communication skills, higher-level thinking skills, and role development in a changing practice environment. 

The School of Nursing gratefully acknowledges the sponsorship, contribution, and far-reaching vision of the Sisters of St. Joseph who established this program over 70 years ago.   The education provided reflects the Sisters’ charism to recognize and care for the dear neighbor and to promote right relationships and social justice.

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The Avila Promise

  • Tuition Protection
  • 4-Year Graduation Guarantee
  • Internship or Research Guarantee
  • Up to $1,000 Travel Award


That’s the Avila Promise.

School of Nursing Will Begin Accepting Applications for Fall 2020 on October 1, 2019

Visit the School of Nursing Admission and Application Information Pages.

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