Research College of Nursing (RCoN) 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.

The first class of diploma prepared nurses graduated in 1906. In the first part of the 20th century, the name of German Hospital and the School of Nursing were changed to Research Medical Center and Research School of Nursing.

As a regional leader in the area of quality nursing education, the College led the transition in nursing education through the evolution of the diploma program into an academic program of study leading to a baccalaureate of science in nursing degree, jointly awarded with Rockhurst College (now Rockhurst University). The first class was admitted in 1980. During the next few years, the College added two additional tracks. A RN-BSN track, designed to assist diploma or associate degree nurses to complete BSN degree, was started in 1984. Continuing its mission to meet the community's needs and address the shortage at the bedside, RCoN initiated an Accelerated BSN track for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in other fields in 1991. The program was among the first 30 in the country. The RN-BSN program was phased out in 1998. The partnership with Rockhurst University ended in May 2022.

A master’s of science in nursing program was developed in 1995 with one clinical specialty, that of a Family Nurse Practitioner. The first class was admitted in 1997. A second track, Executive Nurse Practice: Health Care Leadership (now known as Executive Practice and Healthcare Leadership) began in 2003. In the fall of 2004, a third graduate track, the Nurse Educator was initiated. The Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner track was offered from 2011-2022. The Clinical Nurse Leader track was offered from the fall of 2011 to fall of 2017. The MSN program will be closing in December of 2024.

Corporate oversight of the College of Nursing has undergone several changes which have been of great benefit to the institution. In April 2003, HCA Healthcare acquired Research Medical Center and Research College of Nursing which are now part of the HCA Midwest Health division. Enhancing its position in the Kansas City community, through this movement RCoN became the first institution of higher learning to be a part of HCA Healthcare.

Research College of Nursing students benefit from the broad array of patients and services through clinical experiences at HCA Midwest Health facilities. Since it admitted its first class in 1905, the College has graduated over 6,000 professional nurses. Through its many changes RCoN continues to thrive and to serve as a leader in innovation among nursing programs in the community and in the nation.