Weber State nursing program surpasses 70-year milestone
OGDEN — In September 1953, Weber State University enrolled 36 students into its nursing program.
Today, nearly 100 students are enrolled each semester and the nursing school employs 59 faculty and 10 staff members.
The program, named the Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing, has produced more nurses than any other institution in the state, said professor and chair, Rieneke Holman.
“Weber State was one of the first associate degree nursing programs west of the Mississippi,” Holman said. “We have also been told we have one of the highest conversion rates, meaning our students who graduate stick around and work in Utah, and our clinical partners love that because they see it as a lasting investment.”
In the 1950s, the nation was hit with a nursing shortage, so Columbia University started an experimental program to train nurses in two years instead of four. WSU was one of seven schools chosen to participate.
In 2018, the university renamed the school of nursing after Annie Taylor Dee, whose incentive was to bring quality medical care to the Ogden community after tragedy struck her family. In 1894, her 21-year-old son, Thomas Reese, died on the family’s dining room table following surgery to remove his appendix. Eleven years later, her husband, Thomas D. Dee, developed pneumonia, which took his life at the age of 60.
It was then that she decided to open the Dee Memorial Hospital on 24th Street and Harrison Boulevard. After receiving funding from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the help of David O. McKay, a former president of the church, the hospital moved to 39th and Harrison and again to its current location at 44th and Harrison. The hospital, now named Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital, is a partner and supporter of the university’s nursing program.
“I actually didn’t go to Weber (State) for nursing, but when I came here and did my student teaching, I fell in love with the culture and everything Weber stands for,” Holman said. “Weber is a great fit for most people who want to become a nurse because the school is very welcoming, innovative and creative and we’re also ahead of the national curve in many areas.”
The school has multiple options ranging from associate degrees to doctorate degrees, Holman said, and students can get into the workforce while they’re working toward their bachelor’s degree. It also partners with Ogden-Weber Technical College, Davis Applied Technology College and Bridgerland Technical College.
Alan Holt graduated from the nursing program in 1981 and worked as a nurse anesthetist and humanitarian nurse for over 40 years.
“If I had to summarize my career in a few words, I would say fulfilling and very rewarding,” said Holt, who is now retired. “The more you get involved in taking care of people, the more you want the best for them and that brought me back every day.”
A celebration to commemorate 70 years was held in September at the David Eccles Community Center in Ogden.