Elsie Stephenson

The University's first Director of the Nursing Studies Unit in 1956.

Described in the Journal of Advanced Nursing as “Britain’s nursing messiah of the 20th century”, Elsie Stephenson became the University's first Director of the Nursing Studies Unit in 1956.  This appointment shocked members of the Scottish nursing community due to her lack of university education and teaching experience.

In her post as Director, Elsie oversaw a new training scheme that expected students to graduate in an arts or humanities discipline before taking their nursing qualification.In 1964 a degree programme in nursing was established, as well as a school for overseas students, which was supported by the World Health Organisation.

Elsie Stephenson
Elsie Stephenson
One of the students supervised by Elsie was Annie Altschul, another of our Inspiring Women.

Elsie was among a small number of international figures that have been instrumental in establishing the status of the nursing profession, who include the Scottish born Ethel Bedford Fenwick, who fought for a national register of nurses. She reportedly decided to become a nurse aged three after her father died in the influenza epidemic.

Elsie died of breast cancer in 1967, aged 51.


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