New era begins with transition of Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing to four-year BSN program at University of Bridgeport

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Members of the BHSN faculty, including Director Linda Podolak (center) pose outside the school’s main entrance.
BRIDGEPORT, CT (April 6, 2017) – Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing (BHSN) will close its doors later this year after 133 years of educating nurses. 

BHSN is the last operational hospital-based diploma nursing program and the oldest school of nursing in Connecticut, and one of the oldest nursing schools in the United States. The school graduated its first class in 1887 and since then, over 5,200 students have graduated. 

The school’s last nursing class will graduate May 1. The two-year RN diploma program will transition to a four-year bachelor of science in nursing program under the University of Bridgeport (UB), which will also serve as the site of the final BHSN graduation. 

“For over 130 years, Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing has been at the forefront of nursing education,” said Dr. Linda Podolak, BHSN director. “It has kept abreast of changing techniques in teaching, maintained accreditation and continued to exceed state and national NCLEX (State Board Examination) pass rates. Even as our doors close, BHSN continues to be a leader in nurse education, earning a Number 2 ranking among all two-year nursing schools in the nation by Nursing Schools Almanac for 2016.”

William M. Jennings, president and CEO of Bridgeport Hospital, and executive vice president, Yale New Haven Health, said, “Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing’s rich history tells a story of growth and success that reflects the school’s longstanding role in nursing education.” 

Bridgeport Hospital opened its doors in 1884, with the great showman-statesman P.T. Barnum, as president of its board of directors. The following month, BHSN was established as one of only 15 nursing schools in the United States. In 1906, the first nurse to receive registration (licensure) in Connecticut was a BHSN graduate, and the only Connecticut nurse to serve in the Spanish-American War was also from the school. One of the largest projects for nursing education ever planned was the establishment of the Nurse Cadet Corps from 1942 to 1947. During both world wars and more recent conflicts, hundreds of graduates served as nurses in the armed forces. 

For over 50 years, the education pathway to nursing has been divisive with gradual movement toward change. In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine released its landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which called for increasing the number of nurses with BSN degrees to 80 percent by the year 2020.  

In April 2014, BHSN signed a collaborative agreement with the UB to transition its two-year diploma program to a four-year BSN program. “Although bittersweet, this defining moment brings pride to the legacy that Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing carries to the University of Bridgeport,” said MaryEllen Kosturko, Bridgeport Hospital Senior Vice President of Patient Care Operations and the School of Nursing. “The result will be a nursing workforce that is better equipped to meet the more demanding academic and clinical requirements of the profession – and provide a higher quality of care for patients.”

“By working together, we believe we can capitalize on the strengths of both organizations to produce nurses who have the clinical and academic education to adapt and succeed in a rapidly changing healthcare environment,” Jennings added.

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Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit 501-bed acute care hospital with two campuses (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children's Hospital). Its Bridgeport and Milford Campuses serve patients from across the region. The hospital admits more than 23,000 patients and provides nearly 350,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 64 verified burn centers in the United States. Bridgeport Hospital is committed to providing safe, compassionate and cost efficient care to its patients and the community.

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