Research College of Nursing has its roots in the history of Research Medical Center which began in 1886 as the German Hospital. The German Hospital Training School for Nurses was founded in June 1905 with five students enrolled in the first class and five others who later transferred from other nursing schools. Three years following the graduation of the first students, in 1909, the German Hospital Nursing Alumnae Association was formed with eight of the first ten graduates becoming charter members. The group was developed to promote good fellowship and maintain a high standard among graduates. One hundred and five years later, the basic goals of the Alumni Association remain the same. Our alumni serve as preceptors for our graduate students and as clinical adjuncts for our BSN students, carrying on the tradition of excellence in nursing education.

During World War I, the name of the hospital was changed to Research Hospital in order to eliminate any connection to the war and Germany. The cross on the pin was also removed due to a striking resemblance to the German Iron Cross. The cross was restored to the pin two years later in 1920 and the basic design remains the same today. The school of nursing thrived through the next four decades building a reputation for excellence in nursing education.

Responding to the need to elevate nursing education to the baccalaureate level, Research Medical Center, the nursing program's parent institution, initiated discussions regarding that transition and a partnership with a liberal arts college. In 1979 a unique joint program was formed with what was then Rockhurst College, Kansas City's Jesuit institution. This partnership was one of a few in the United States who successfully gained initial accreditation from both regional and nursing accrediting bodies. The first class was admitted to the joint Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Fall 1980; the diploma program graduated its last class in 1982.

Continuing its mission to meet the community's needs and address the shortage at the bedside, the College of Nursing initiated an accelerated program for individuals with degrees in other fields in 1991. The program was among the first 30 in the country.  In response to the perceived need for advanced nursing education, the College developed and implemented a Master of Science in Nursing program in 1995 graduating its first class in 1999. The initial track had a focus on the family nurse practitioner role; since that time, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, executive nurse practice, nurse educator, clinical nurse leader and RN-MSN  tracks have been added.

Over the past two decades the corporate oversight of the College of Nursing has undergone several changes which have been of great benefit to the institution. In 1992, Research Medical Center acquired Baptist Medical Center enhancing its position in the Kansas City community. By 1999, Research Medical Center was one of 11 hospitals that comprised the Health Midwest System. In April 2003, HCA acquired the Health Midwest System, including Research Medical Center and the College of Nursing. Research Medical Center continued to be the parent of the College; thus the College became the first and only institution of higher learning to be a part of HCA. Research Medical Center, now as a dual campus facility, serves patients from a 150-mile region surrounding Kansas City. As a quaternary care center it features a broad range of services and access to advanced technology.  College of Nursing students benefit from this broad array of patients and services through clinical experiences at HCA Mid America Health facilities.

Since it admitted its first class in 1905, the College has graduated over 5000 professional nurses. Through its many changes Research College continues to thrive and to serve as a leader in innovation among nursing programs in the community and in the nation.