Certain sources indicate that the Ethiopian Red Cross Society established the first school of nursing in Ethiopia in 1949 at the then Haileselasse I Hospital in Addis Ababa. Later other Schools of nursing in Addis Ababa: Empress Zewditu Memorial, Princess Tsehay Memorial (Armed Forces), Duke of Harar (Tikur Anbessa), St Paul’s Schools of nursing was established in 1950, 1951, 1969 and 1970 respectively. There after, Centralized school of Nursing (CSN) was established, in 1977, by amalgamating the three schools of nursing, namely: Princess Tsehay Memorial, Duke of Harer, and St Paul’s Schools of nursing. The intention of centralization was to optimize utilization of resources, increase number of trainees, and to standardize and maintain the uniformity of training. The Empress Zewditu Memorial school of Nursing later joined the group in 1976.The Princess Tsehay Memorial School of nursing separated from the Centralized School of Nursing and managed by the Ministry of Defense, Medical Department, since 1985. So that, the current CSN comprises only the three Schools: Tikur Anbessa, St Paul’s, and empress Zewditu Memorial Schools of nursing which were named after the hospitals where they are hosted.
Starting from its establishment till 1991 the CSN remained under the management of Ministry of Health. From 1991 till its affiliation to the Addis Ababa University, in September 1998, Addis Ababa City government Health Bureau has managed the CSN. From the time of nursing introduction to the country in 1949 till the 1972 Ethiopian revolution, the duration of nursing training program was 3 ½ – 4 years. The CSN from its establishment till 1996 used to conduct two categories of diploma programs in comprehensive nursing, namely: the regular (generic) diploma program, and the upgrading stream – i.e., from health assistant to nursing. The duration of training program was reduced to 2 ½ solid years- i.e., without summer leave and vacation in between semesters. Since September 1996, following the inappropriately managed change of the national nursing curriculum, the CSN has changed its Diploma nursing training program from comprehensive nursing to clinical nursing. Contrary, the duration of training was reduced to 2 solid years. Further the school Phased out upgrading stream of the diploma program, as candidates were not able to fulfill the admission criteria for higher-level education in the University.
Moreover, the CSN has been tremendously working to catch up with the fast moving development of nursing science and to take part in such progress. To realize this, the school started the undergraduate degree education program in nursing. The main aim of this program is to meet the observed need of the society and the stakeholders demand for professional nurses prepared at degree level through upgrading the existing education and research programs of the school. The culminating effect will be the improvement of the quality and coverage of nursing services in the country. Strengthening the undergraduate Baccalaureate program, the school also started the Msc program in nursing since 2006/07 in-order to fulfill the human capacity of the Country consistent with the need of the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia.