By: Hazel Alvarez, Staff Writer
As Loretto Heights School of Nursing (LHSON) celebrates thirty years at Regis and the #1 spot of nursing schools in Colorado (Niche.com 2019), we take the time to look back at the history of the nursing program here at Regis.
Loretto Heights wasn’t always based in Regis. First founded by Mother Pancratia and other sisters of Loretto, it was intended as a Catholic academy for girls, situated on a hilltop, thus naming it “Loretto Heights.” Mother Pancratia found support from local banks and, with the Sisters of Loretto, helped established Loretto Heights Academy, an all-girls Catholic elementary and secondary school, by 1891. The liberal arts boarding school attracted many daughters of pioneers at the time when the West and Denver were being developed (Historic Denver).
By 1916, Loretto Heights College for women was established.
During World War I in 1917, Loretto Heights became a military training ground for over 200 women (Historic Denver).
American Red Cross students and sisters of the Loretto Heights Academy sit as they work on bandages on the Loretto Heights service camp, which was a training center at the time of WWI, in Denver, Colorado 1917-1918. Photo by George L. Beam.
By 1926, Loretto Heights College gained accreditation, while the Loretto Heights Academy was still in cooperation (Historic Denver).
In 1948, the nursing program at Loretto Heights was established (Regis University & Historic Denver).
In 1980, Loretto Heights College launched the Health Records Information Management program.
By the summer of 1988, Loretto Heights College closed due to financial reasons, and Regis University purchased the Loretto Heights nursing program.
This time was one of uncertainty for both students of Loretto Heights College and Regis College. “When we heard that Regis College was taking over Loretto Heights,” stated Elizabeth Howard, a staff writer at the time of the transition, “many people [especially Loretto students] wondered which Loretto programs would Regis continue.” Many of the faculty and students, especially from the medical and nursing department, transitioned from Loretto Heights College to Regis College.
The Loretto Heights nursing program was housed in the basement of Main Hall, having been a part of the new health care management program at Regis. The nursing program had its own dean, meaning it was equal to any other campus program despite it being a different school than Regis College. The program at the time of the transition was estimated at 80 registered students.
By early 2000s, a nursing graduate from Regis University donated to reestablish facilities such as labs and equipment for educational development. The College for Health Professions thus became the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Profession (RHCHP), naming the institution after the donors. The RHCHP not only includes the Loretto Heights School for Nursing, but the School of Pharmacy and the School of Physical Therapy as well.
The nursing program became the foundation for the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions (RHCHP), helping improve enrollment for Regis. When I came to Regis, our numbers were nearing the 200s, and that was just my freshman year. Granted, many have left the program for various reasons, but there are many transfers students who wish to join the program to this day as the demand for nurses is expected to near 1.09 million by 2024 due to veteran nurses retiring (American Association of Colleges of Nursing).
To prepare students to enter the ever growing field of nursing, Regis offers the following undergraduate degrees:
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, both in Traditional (you start as a pre-nursing student and graduate with a BSN) and Acceleration (you graduate with a degree that is not nursing and go through the acceleration program to obtain a BSN).
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, also known as CHOICE, for working students in the healthcare field.
RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion (which is an option for Registered Nurses that wanted to complete their four-year study to obtain a BSN).
SIDE NOTE: You can be a Registered Nurse (RN) and not have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). You will know how much a nurse’s schooling if you see on their I.D. “RN, BSN…” etc.
and RN to Master of Science in Nursing: Education/Management Focus
For graduate degrees, Regis offers:
Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Master of Science in Nursing - Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
Master of Science in Nursing - Leadership in Health Care Systems
Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Master of Science in Nursing Completion
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Doctor of Nursing, Post BSN to DNP (MS-DNP)
On March 7 of this year, the Loretto Heights School of Nursing celebrated thirty years at Regis University.
To think, this is the same college that nurses back in California would recommend to me for nursing school. In a city where nursing programs known were University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) or California State University - Long Beach (CSULB), I couldn’t believe that this college out in Colorado was widely known among nurses in my home city of Torrance, California, or at least some of the nursing faculty of Torrance Memorial Hospital. I was used to my peers in the same city not knowing what Regis University was about or where. I wasn’t expecting California nurses to know about LHSON at Regis University. It’s amazing to look back and see how much LHSON has come so far, and to kind of feel the weight of those celebrated thirty years. I’m sure just as the nursing field itself is expanding, so will Loretto Heights School of Nursing, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.