Milestones in nursing history

A look at important moments in nursing at Kaiser Permanente.

Milestones in nursing history

A look at important moments in nursing at Kaiser Permanente.

Nurses serve wartime Kaiser workers

Kaiser Permanente founding physician Sidney R. Garfield, MD, begins running the Permanente Health Plan for WWII Kaiser shipyard workers in Richmond, California, where 280 nurses assisted 83 physicians to serve almost 90,000 employees.


First U.S. nurse labor agreement

Nurses working under Dr. Garfield sign a 5-year contract covering salaries and services, represented by the Alameda County Nurses’ Association, part of the California State Nurses’ Association. This is believed to be the first nurses labor agreement in the United States.


School of nursing opens

The Permanente Foundation establishes a nursing school to train more nurses and help alleviate the severe postwar shortage. Before it closed in 1976, the school produced 1,065 nurses and boasted numerous accomplishments.


Nurse appointed first female hospital administrator

Dr. Garfield appoints registered nurse Dorothea Daniels administrator of the newly opened Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Los Angeles, making her the first female Kaiser Permanente hospital administrator. Daniels had served as the director of nursing in the Permanente Foundation hospital in Oakland, California, and as first director of its nursing school.


Nurse opens center for health education

Registered nurse Frances Bobbie Collen is assigned to run the health education research center at the Permanente Foundation hospital in Oakland. It was the first library in the United States to provide health and medical information to the layperson, and was a demonstration model for other health care organizations. 


Nurse practitioners pioneer new health care role

Kaiser Permanente becomes the first prepaid group practice to hire the new health care professional role of nurse practitioner. This was one of the four 4 roles that encompass advanced practice nursing, along with nurse mid-wife, nurse anesthetist, and clinical nurse specialist, filling the gap between nurses and physicians to provide affordable, high-quality care.


Nurse-midwives support women’s health care

Kaiser Permanente in Oregon hires its first certified nurse-midwife, an uncommon role in major hospital facilities, raising the bar for women’s health care.


School of anesthesia opens

The Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia for Nurses opens in Los Angeles. The KPSA was the first to offer a program for a Master of Science in Nursing with a clinical specialty of nurse anesthesiology awarded in the United States. In conjunction with California State University, Fullerton, the school has developed an outstanding reputation throughout the country and its graduates have a 100% job placement rate.


Nurses pioneer teleconference learning

Kaiser Permanente launches an innovative teleconferencing program for distance learning. The charter class of the master’s degree in nursing and leadership course given through Sonoma State University and Holy Names College graduated 16 nurses the following year. 


Program launches to stabilize nurse workforce

Kaiser Permanente launches the Nursing Workforce Initiative to ensure that the health system has an appropriately prepared staff to provide care for its members. In the first year it successfully recruited 922 nurses.


Nursing practice innovations tested at new center

The Garfield Innovation Center in Oakland, California, introduces the hospital room of the future, which Kaiser Permanente’s national nursing leader Marilyn Chow, RN, helped design. It is a major advancement for modeling nursing practices and testing new technologies and care environments with front-line nurses.                                                



Continuing education for nurses

The Kaiser Permanente Nurse Scholars Academy is launched in Northern California, offering advanced degree options and professional development programs for working nurses. It achieves national recognition for its innovative academic partnerships and a video documentary highlighting the legacy of nursing at Kaiser Permanente. 


Awards for nursing quality

Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center becomes the first within the organization’s hospital system to achieve the prestigious Magnet Hospital designation, nursing’s greatest distinction for quality and evidence-based practice. It is awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and measures nursing quality and performance outcomes. This distinction is also awarded to Kaiser Permanente Anaheim Medical Center in 2018.


Nurse foundation program supported

Kaiser Permanente provides essential support for the American Nurses Foundation “RN Initiative” to launch and design a national multiphase proposal to reimagine nursing education, regulation, and practice.


Labor-management collaboration for nurse training

In the wake of COVID-19, online training for pandemic readiness is offered to LVNs and LPNs as a project of Futuro Health, a California-based nonprofit established by Kaiser Permanente and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. 


History of Kaiser Permanente nursing published

A landmark nursing book is published about the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing, documenting the 75-year history of disruptive innovation and the many accomplishments of Kaiser Permanente nurses over the years.