The Henrietta Szold Hadassah - Hebrew University School of Nursing was founded in 1918 as one of the initial projects of the Hadassah Medical Organization, which was founded that same year. The recognition of the need to train local personnel, who were fluent in the language, as well as familiar with the country and its conditions, was a fundamental step in assuring a firm foundation for Israel's then-nascent medical services.
It proved to be a wise policy, something which characterizes Hadassah's development of additional fields in medical studies throughout the ensuing decades. It is largely thanks to the foresight of the late Henrietta Szold, social worker, educator and founder of Hadassah, who came to this country from the US at a late age. Szold was inspired by the idea of serving her people and raising health standards among all sections of the population in the Holy Land, regardless of race or creed.
The Nursing School, which bears her name, graduated its first class of 22 nurses in 1921. Since then, over 2500 graduates have joined the ranks, many of them serving in key medical and nursing positions all over Israel.
Until 1936, the Henrietta Szold Hadassah - Hebrew University School of Nursing was the only school of its kind among the Jewish population. Follwowing the opening of the first medical center on Mount Scopus in 1939, it was transferred to a new location, alongside the Rothschild University Hospital. In 1948, following attacks on a medical convoy, which resulted in the tragic death of 76 members of the Hadassah and Hebrew University staff, the buildings on Mount Scopus were evacuated.
The Nursing School was temporarily lodged in St. Joseph's Convent in the center of town. During the War of Independence, the school faced its greatest challenge thus far - The IDF called upon it and in response nursing aides were trained, and the students treated soldiers and civilians alike during the siege of Jerusalem.
With the establishment of the State and the subsequent mass immigration of Jews from all over the world, the student body grew exponentially. Emergency short-term courses for auxiliary nurses were established in addition to one-year courses for practical nurses in order to provide additional skilled personnel for the preventive medical services.
In addition, a program of post-graduate study was drawn up, aimed at enhancing the nurses' basic education acquired during the regular three-year course as well as prepare them for the specialized fields, such as public health, midwifery and surgery. In 1961, the school was transferred to its permanent home in the Hadassah - Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, where it still resides today.