History and Background 

IMAGE Grady School of Nursing Early Graduating Classes

Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing graduating class of 1900. 

The Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing began admitting students in 1898, becoming the first charted nursing school in the state of Georgia. Students gained practical experience working at Grady Memorial Hospital while also managing a demanding course schedule. Coursework included biological, physical, and behavioral sciences, English, and foundational nursing classes; clinical work included hands-on patient care across multiple departments.

Sixteen years after Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing was chartered, the Municipal Training School for Colored Nurses became part of Grady as an accredited nursing school for black students. Municipal School students took courses at Spelman College and completed clinical work at Hughes Spalding Pavilion and the black ward of Grady Hospital. Ludie Andrews, Georgia’s first black registered nurse, organized and facilitated the founding of the Municipal School in 1914; it received its official charter three years later in 1917. In the 1940s the Municipal School was one of only three Georgia schools (of fourteen) that enrolled blacks students.

In 1923, the director of nursing education at Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing took on the administration of the Municipal Training School for Colored Nurses, and in 1946 the Training School was renamed Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. However, the schools remained segregated.

In September 1964, the two nursing programs were integrated under Grady Hospital School of Nursing. Before 1964, black students took courses at Spelman College, while white students took courses at Georgia State College (now Georgia State University). Until the 1950s, black student nurses only worked in the black wards of Grady Memorial Hospital, and white students nurses only worked in the white wards. Though both white and black students had the same curriculum for several years prior to integration, it not until 1964 that the black and white students began taking classes together, living in the same dorm buildings, and working the same clinical rounds. As a symbol of this integration, the nursing cap worn by the students was updated to incorporate pieces of both schools’ original nursing cap designs.  

Between 1964 and 1980 enrollment at Grady Hospital School of Nursing dropped significantly: shifts in nursing education and the growth of bachelor degree nursing programs contributed to a decline in enrollment in three-year hospital associate programs, like Grady’s. Still, the Grady Hospital School of Nursing made an impact in the nursing profession: before closing its doors in 1982, it had graduated over 4,000 nurses.