Recently, a small exhibit has opened in the Education in Zion Gallery in honor of the 60 year anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing. For the past decade, the theme of the college has been “The Healer’s Art.”
The early leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had quite an interest in the healer’s art. In fact, shortly after the organization of the Relief Society in 1842, Joseph Smith set apart “noble and lofty women … to go about among the sick and minister to their wants” (“Nursing in the Relief Society”, Relief Society Magazine 2, no. 7 [July 1915]: 316-17).
President Brigham Young also had quite an interest in allowing the healer’s art to bless the lives of the early Saints. Shortly after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, he established a Council of Health. President Young then called for three women from each ward in the Church to study nursing. Eliza R. Snow personally recruited many nursing students “for Zion’s sake” (“An Address by Miss Eliza R. Snow, “Woman’s Exponent 2, no.8 [15 September 1873]: 63). These classes were mostly taught by women doctors in the church. When women graduated from these early schools, they were even blessed and set apart for their professional work.
The prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young knew how important caring for one another was. They wanted to create nursing educations for the early Saints to allow them the tools necessary to serve others as Jesus Christ served others, for surely the healer’s art was first taught by Jesus Christ.