The 20th Century: 1950-1959


Community Hospital Nursing Staff 1950First meeting of the NC Student Nurse Association.

UNC-Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) opens a School of Nursing and offers the first Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in the state. Dr. Elizabeth Kemble was appointed Founding Dean of the UNC-CH School of Nursing.

The Subcommittee on School Data Analysis for the National Committee for the Improvement of Nursing Services issues the "Nursing Schools at Mid Century" in 1950 (the data was collected in 1949) influences nursing educators in NC and across the country.

The Standardization Board and the NC Board of Nursing Examiners found numerous deficiencies in the nursing program offered at the Hamlet Hospital School of Nursing in Hamlet, NC. Their attempt to close the school resulted in a law suit filed by administrators of the school. In 1952 an agreement was reached and recommended improvements were made to the school. 

Image: Nursing staff of the segregated African American Community Hospital in Wilmington, NC (1950). Photograph sourced from Eaton, H.A. (1950). Community Hospital Wilmington, N.C. J. Natl Med Assoc, 57(1), p.74-79.


The administrators of Hamlet Hospital School of Nursing in Hamlet, NC sued the NC Board of Nursing Examiners (NCBONE) contending that they didn't have the right to set standards for nursing schools.  After a lengthy court battle the NCBONE prevailed. 

An annual Institute was held for midwife training at the Fayetteville State Teachers College in Fayetteville. This Institute was discontinued in 1959 as the number of midwives declined to less than 350 in the state. The responsibility for training midwives was then given to local health departments. Recommended standards for midwife practice were established and enacted in 1956.

Newspaper Clippings from 1951

The Korean War, 1951-1953

The US entered the Korea War siding with South Korea against communist North Korea. Less than 500 RNs served on the ground in Korea because most of the wounded were flown to military hospitals in Japan for treatment.

Learn More: Nursing During the Korean War


In an effort to avoid integration of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, the NC legislature appropriated $200,000 to open BSN programs at NC A&T in Greensboro and WSSU in Winston-Salem. Racially separate BSN programs endured for over a decade in NC.

A MAJOR political fight occured in the General Assembly as a coaltion of physicians and hosptial owners wanted to dilute the Nurse Practice Act. In the end a compromise was reached.

The North Carolina State Nurse Association (NCSNA) convention delegates endorsed the 40 hour work week and immediate implementation of the resolution was begun. The NCSNA staff began a study of salary differentials based on race to begin eliminating pay discrimination in employment.

NC Memorial Hospital opened one of the nations’ first Intensive Care Units requiring advanced clinical preparation for nurses who worked in that unit.

The NC Nurse Practice Act was amended to include a definition of nursing for the first time.  It read :“A person is engaged in the practice of professional nursing when such person for compensation or personal profit performs any professional service requiring the application of principles of the biological, physical or social sciences and nursing skills in the care of the sick, in the prevention of disease  or in the conservation of health, such as responsible supervision of a patient requiring skill in observation of symptoms and reactions and the accurate recording of the  facts, the carrying out of treatments and medications as prescribed by a licensed physician and the application of such nursing procedures as involve understanding of cause and effect in order to safeguard life and health of a patient or other …”.  The law explicitly reserved the titles graduate nurse, trained nurse, registered nurse and professional nurse for those people who passed the licensing examination given by the NC Board of Nursing.  The law explicitly reserved the titles graduate nurse, trained nurse, registered nurse and professional nurse for those people who passed the licensing examination given by the NC Board of Nursing.


The NC Board of Nursing issued standards for nursing education programs.

Newspaper Clippings from 1953-1954


UNC Chapel Hill offered the first Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in North Carolina. Audrey Booth , RN received the first MSN from UNC - Chapel Hill in 1958. Four institutions in the state: Duke, Winston-Salem State Teachers College, UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in Greensboro offered the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

The book 20,000 Nurses Tell Their Story was published in 1955. The section on psychiatric nursing was taken from a study done on NC nurses.


Watts Hospital School of Nursing was the first three year diploma school in North Carolina to receive full accreditation by the National League for Nursing.


An experimental 2 year associate degree nursing program (ADN) was established at UNC-Greensboro.

The National League for Nursing issues the Report on Hospital Schools of Nursing.


Duke University introduces a graduate program to prepare clinical nurse specialists. It is the first clinically focused Master of Science in Nursing program in the country.