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School of Nursing


Karen O'Brien Headshot
Karen O'Brien
Director of Nursing

Message From the Director

Welcome to the School of Nursing!

Welcome to Saint Xavier University's (SXU) School of Nursing (SON), part of the College of Nursing, Health Sciences and Business (CNHSB)! The rich traditions of Saint Xavier University’s School of Nursing evolved from the commitment of the Sisters of Mercy to serve the city of Chicago.

The Sisters arrived in Chicago in 1846 and immediately opened a boarding school for girls, Saint Xavier Academy, and began nursing the sick in their home. In 1852, the Sisters were issued a charter for what was known as Mercy Hospital. As the hospital began to grow, the Sisters of Mercy recognized the need for trained women to care for the patients. To meet this need, the Mercy School of Nursing was opened in 1889 and received its charter in 1892 as the Mercy Hospital Training School.

In 1935, the Sisters of Mercy merged the hospital training program with Saint Xavier College, launching the first baccalaureate nursing program in Illinois. The four-year collegiate program offered students a basic liberal arts education combined with professional nursing experience, culminating in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). In May 1940, the Mercy School of Nursing of Saint Xavier College became the only college of nursing in Illinois and the 27th member school to be recognized nationally by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing, which was the first official accrediting body for nursing. Today, SON boasts continuous accreditation by the National League for Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and in 2020, the nursing program celebrated its 85th anniversary.

Innovative programs and commitment to service have been hallmarks of the nursing program. The University Health Center was developed over a 30-year period, beginning in a small office in the nursing wing. Today, it is housed in the Driehaus Center and is managed and staffed by certified nurse practitioners who provide health care services to students, faculty, staff, and members of the surrounding community. The new Simulation and Integrated Learning Center (SILC) provides students with simulated learning experiences, which are a key component to progress and success in the nursing program. These activities utilize real-life scenarios and safe clinical environments to enhance knowledge and clinical judgement capabilities.

Nursing faculty provide an educational environment that promotes intentional caring with students from diverse backgrounds, preparing students for personal and professional growth and providing a foundation for graduate education in nursing. Through liberal education, SXU graduates are prepared to participate in all types of practice settings. The core of knowledge within the program provides a foundation for thinking in critical and creative ways. The baccalaureate curriculum is designed to prepare the graduate to practice as a generalist independently or collaboratively with other health professionals in the areas of health promotion, risk reduction and illness management.

This program has a long history of producing exceptional professional registered nurses working in all types of practice settings here in Chicago and all across the country, and we look forward to witnessing your journeys as you become the nation's next health care heroes!

Launch School of Nursing

Why SXU?

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About the School of Nursing


  • The Nursing program was the first nursing Mercy school in Illinois.
  • The baccalaureate degree program in nursing and the master's degree program in nursing at Saint Xavier University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Graduates of the BSN program are eligible to take the NCLEX examination, which will qualify them to become registered nurses. SXU is committed to preparing students to successfully pass the nursing licensure exam and currently holds and NCLEX pass rate of 86% for 2024.

At SXU, the School of Nursing will prepare students for the 21st century health care workplace by teaching them to be strong clinicians with a focus on health and wellness across diverse populations while acquiring a quality education from a top ranked program.


Through excellence in education, scholarship and community engagement, the School of Nursing embodies the Mercy mission in preparing individuals to engage in high quality, compassionate, and professional practice within the health sciences.

Nursing Mission, Vision and Goals

Both the University and the Nursing program remain dedicated to promoting the values of the Sisters of Mercy, founded upon the ideals of education, service and compassion.

Our Mission

The Nursing program embraces the mission of the University that is dedicated to the pursuit of academic excellence in the context of Mercy values. Through innovative and creative educational models that foster scholarship, compassion and lifelong learning, we educate exemplary nurses for professional practice in the diverse, global community.

Our Vision

Within the Nursing program, we will create a learning community responsive to a changing and challenging 21st century health care environment. Building on faculty scholarship and clinical expertise and forming collegial relationships and strategic partnering, we will continue our tradition of preparing excellent nurses who will practice in a variety of professional roles.

Our Goals

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The goals of the undergraduate program in nursing are to:

  1. Develop the liberally educated professional nurse who is prepared to practice in entry level positions in various settings;
  2. Provide a foundation for personal and professional development; and
  3. Provide a foundation for graduate study in nursing.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The goals of the graduate program in nursing are to:

  1. Prepare registered professional nurses to meet current and future health care needs of populations through advanced nursing practice and transformative leadership, grounded in Mercy values.
  2. Provide a foundation for research or practice-focused doctoral study in nursing.