As a part of the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Hadassah School of Nursing, Prof. Freda DeKeyser Ganz, PhD, RN, Coordinator of Research and Development and Head of the Doctoral Program at the Henrietta Szold Hebrew University – Hadassah School of Nursing, has been touring the United States and talking about the crucial role of Hadassah nurses in the development of the State of Israel, the Israeli medical system, and why nursing is still such an innovative and vital component of the Hadassah Medical Center.

Prof. DeKeyser Ganz (in photo above) tells her audiences that Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah, had travelled to pre-state Israel in 1909, and saw first-hand the high infant and maternal mortality rates as well as the terrible public health conditions that were impacting the health and welfare of children living in Jerusalem and elsewhere. In response, Hadassah was founded in 1912, and by 1913 the Hadassah members had raised enough money to send two nurses to Jerusalem to start to tackle the problem.

However, Ms. Szold realized that sending temporary doctors and nurses for relatively short periods was not providing a sustainable solution to the problem. What was needed was many local residents who understood the culture and language of the community, and could take care of their patients regularly. Her solution was to train nurses.

In 1918, Hadassah opened the first school of nursing in Jerusalem. (Until 1936, it was the only school of nursing in pre-state Israel). There were 400 applicants for the 40 positions offered, and about 20 students completed the course and became registered nurses.

At the time nurses around the world were regarded as handmaidens, who simply implemented the doctor’s orders. It was a revolutionary concept for nurses to receive extensive training, to take initiative, and to make decisions about their patients care. Hadassah made sure that their nurses received the best training. Nursing flourished, leading to less disease in both the Arab and Jewish populations and the development of the medical infra-structure of Israel.

This year marks 70 years since the establishment of the State of Israel, and today Israel is listed as one of the 30 most stable economies in the world. One of the crucial factors in this is the outstanding Health Care system in Israel, which was founded by Hadassah before the state was even formed. Nurses were the starting point for this health care.

From Dream to Innovation:

The Hadassah Nursing School is on the cutting edge of teaching and healing, introducing new programs as needed to serve the population of Israel.

When special nursing courses were needed to help to absorb an immigrant group, programs were created to make sure that the new immigrants could become nurses. Today there are special courses for immigrants from Ethiopia.

Prof. DeKeyser Ganz tells her audiences that in 2001 Hadassah introduced a Clinical Master’s Degree Program in Nursing—the only one in Israel until September 2017. In 2009, Nurse practitioners became legal in Israel.

In 2016, Hadassah started a doctoral program for nurses so that they could do research, submit a thesis, and receive their PhD.

Today Hadassah nurses do their own original research. Some of the research topics have included Coumadin dosage for heart failure patients; Sexuality in the Ultra-Orthodox community; Urinary incontinence; Pain control in children; and Car seat belts.

Hadassah student nurses in the Master’s Program have a tremendous impact, treating about 30,000 patients a year.


Who is a Hadassah Nurse?

Currently about 13% of nurses in Israel are male.

Politics is not an issue, and there are both Jewish and Arab nurses in the Hadassah Hospital.  It makes no difference as everyone is equal and everyone treats both Jewish and Arab patients. About 50% of the undergraduate nursing student body are Arab.

Hadassah nurses help to build bridges to peace.

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