Rankin School of Nursing

Established in 1926, the School of Nursing has evolved from a small but dedicated department to a flourishing school with more than 1000 students engaged in innovative campus and distance education programs. National awards of excellence and top accreditations are consistent reminders of the commitment to student development and the delivery of exceptional learning experiences. The hallmark of the School of Nursing at St. Francis Xavier University is the caliber of its graduates who are known nationally and internationally to be extraordinarily caring, compassionate, competent, conscientious and committed professional nurses.

A historical perspective to the Rankin School of Nursing

The St. Francis Xavier University Rankin School of Nursing (StFX) is one of the major legacies of the Sisters of Saint Martha who founded hospitals and nursing education in eastern Nova Scotia and elsewhere in the early 20thCentury. The StFX School of Nursing began as a Department of Nursing, established in the 1920s which gave Registered Nurses the opportunity to complete courses towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The integrated BScN program began admitting high school graduates to a 4-year program in the 1960s. Many of the early faculty members were Sisters of Saint Martha.  The Sisters contributed immensely to a foundation for Nursing Education at StFX based on a philosophy of service to society grounded in compassion and humanitarian ethics, appreciation of the dignity of the human person, respect for life in all its stages, and principles of inquiry based on a search for truth. 

Sister Simone Roach, who led the BScN program in the 1960s and 1970s, was the original author of the Canadian Nursing Association Code of Ethics (Storch, 2007) and a recipient of the Order of Canada in 2010 for her work in Ethics in health care. 

When Sister Simone died in 2016 at the age of 93, she left a powerful legacy through her contributions to the CNA Code of Ethics, her many publications about the nature of caring in health care, and in the many people touched by her work.  The imprint of Sister Simone’s philosophical scholarship and wisdom continues to be a ‘blueprint’ (Roach, 2002) to inform our curriculum, indeed “enduring values in changing times” (Storch, 2007).

In September 2016 the StFX School of Nursing was renamed the Elizabeth and Thomas Rankin School of Nursing. The Rankin School of Nursing was named in honour of Tom and Elizabeth’s long legacy of giving back, and in particular their support of health care.


The Rankin School of Nursing (SON) strives to provide the highest quality nursing educational experience in Canada in an environment where the student comes first.

In its commitment to excellence, the SON desires to enhance the intellectual, social, spiritual, cultural, and personal development of its constituents by integrating innovative teaching, rigorous research, holistic practice, and creative community outreach programs. 

The SON endeavors to search for truth through the processes of professional caring, critical inquiry, reflection, and life-long learning.  

The SON develops, advances, and disseminates nursing knowledge as well as proactively influences public policy that impacts on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, groups/populations, and communities, including the global community. 

The SON actualizes the values of academic freedom, academic honesty, and academic integrity while cultivating a culture of scholarship that includes the scholarship of discovery, teaching, application, integration, and service. 

The SON aspires to uphold those spiritual values and principles that are integral to the dignity and worth of every human being.

The SON recognizes students, faculty, nurse educators, and staff from diverse backgrounds and respects the ideals of social justice, inclusivity, and equity. 

Students, faculty, nurse educators, staff, alumni, and partners in the community and health care sector collaborate to support the mission and values of the school.  

The call for ethical care and the primacy of caring has evolved towards greater inclusion in the curriculum about the importance of health care based on an appreciation of human rights. The school is guided by a philosophical focus on individuals, families, groups, and communities and within the last decade there has been an emphasis on population health and cultural diversity.