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History of the Peter Bent Brigham School of Nursing



The Peter Bent Brigham Hospital was established in 1913 as part of one of the first large medical centers in the country.

The founder, wishing to serve the poor in this community, designated that the hospital shoudl be built "for the care of sick persons in indigent circumstances residing in the County of Suffolk". It was believed that this could best be accomplished through affiliation with a medical school, and the hospital was therfore built on grounds adjacent to Harvard Medical School.


The Peter Bent Brigham Hospital was a 320 bed hospital for the care of adutls with medical and surgical diseases, and consisted of 14 buildings that were well equipped for the care of patients. The hospital faithfully fulfilled the purpose of its founder, and from its establishment considered the training of workers in various fileds of health as one of its responsibilities. Through its continued affiliation with Harvard Medical School, the hospital moved forward with advancing scientific knowledge and medical practice, and thus provided a rich field for the education of nurses.


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The Peter Bent Brigham School of Nursing was an integral part of the hospital, and offered a three-year basic course in nursing to young women and men to prepare themselves for the profession. The school was approved by the Mass. Board of Registration in Nursing and accredited by the National League for Nursing. The school was established on a small scale before the hospital was even opened for admission of patients. Five pupils were admitted November 7, 1912; eleven pupils March 19, 1913: and in June, seven more joined the student ranks.


Carrie M. Hall, Superintendent of Nurses and Principal of the School of Nursing (1912-1937), established the school and designed the distinctive nurses' cap. During WWI, Miss Hall served two and one-half years in the services. She received several citations including the Royal British Red Cross Medal-first class, La Medaille de la Reconnaissance Francaise, the Medaille Florence Nightingale, and the U. S. Defense Sector Medal.


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From 1937 to 1942, Lucy H. Beal was Superintendent of Nurses and Principal of the School of Nursing. An accident in 1942 resulted in her replacement in an acting capacity by Frances W. Bowen. Miss Bowen's ability, loyalty and interest left a deep impression on the school, but she was forced to resign in 1944 due to illness. She was replaced by Elsa E. Storm, who served from 1944 to 1951. Miss Storm was succeeded by Dorothy A. Vernstrom, who served as Director of the school and nursing service until September 1961. Margarita M. Farrington then assumed the position of Director and served until 1966. Marion L. Metcalf was appointed Director of the School and Nursing Service in 1966. In 1979, Miss Metcalf became Vice President for Nursing of the Affiliated Hospitals Center, Inc. which is now Brigham and Women's Hospital. Shirley A. Egan, the Associate Director of the School became Director.


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The Peter Bent Brigham School of Nursing, in its 73 years had graduated more than two thousand nurses, who through their high standards of service, have contributed widely to the better care of the sick and the preservation of health throughout the world. Many are engaged in administrative positions in nursing education, nursing service, and public health nursing, in addition to the numbers that are engaged in patient care in hospitals.


Nineteen eighty-five marked the seventieth graduation exercise.