A leading international academic and research nursing institution.

About the Faculty


The Faculty of Nursing (FON) believes that nursing is an essential profession that contributes to the well-being of individuals at every stage of life and at all states of health. Care should be provided in partnership with individuals who have the right and responsibility to pursue a state of health that provides them with physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being. Nursing is a holistic and continual process of care that can treat illness and disease as well as promote health.

The Chiang Mai University Faculty of Nursing is known for its leadership in building capacity within the region. The FON has helped to upgrade the academic credentials of teaching faculty from neighboring countries has and thereby strengthened nursing education in the region. The FON is routinely approached by the WHO, UN agencies, and national governments to provide technical assistance and training for nurses in the region.


The Faculty of Nursing is located at the Health Sciences campus also known as Suan Dok (which in Thai means “flower garden”), about 1.5 km from the main campus of Chiang Mai University. The Health Sciences campus occupies a 110-acre (45 hectares) site that includes the Faculties of Medicine, Associated Medical Sciences, Nursing, Dentistry, and Pharmacy, as well as the Research Institute for Health Sciences. The Suan Dok campus is also home to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital, known locally as Suan Dok Payaban (Suan Dok Hospital). Maharaj is one of the sites where nursing students do their clinical placement. Built in 1940, the hospital is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine and is the largest teaching hospital in Northern Thailand. The 1,300-bed hospital encompasses three buildings and can accommodate 400 auxiliary beds.


As part of our commitment to Chiang Mai University and its mission, the Faculty of Nursing strives to fulfill four principal functions: 

  • Education serving the needs of society and communities.
  • Research contributing nursing knowledge and applying in nursing education, services, and innovations.
  • Academic services to society/community
  • Cultural and environmental conservation


The Chiang Mai University Faculty of Nursing is a leading international nursing academic and research institution. 
(Our goal is to be rated in the top 100 schools of nursing in QS World University Rankings by 2024)

Core Values

 F - Focus on Quality 

O - Organizational Leadership 

N - Nurturing  

C - Commitment and Community Concerned 

M - Morality

U - Unity


From Founding to Faculty: The Early History of FON

The institution now known as the Faculty of Nursing, Chiang Mai University, was first established in 1959 as the Division of Nursing, Midwifery, and Health within the School of Medicine in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai University proper was yet to exist.

The School of Medicine, including the Division of Nursing, became the first medical school set up outside the capital city. Its aim was to provide better medical care and education for the people in the North and to introduce preventive measures in public health for the rural population. This endeavor was supported by the Thai Government, Siriraj Hospital, and the School of Medicine in collaboration with the United States Organization Mission (USOM) to Thailand.

The foundation of the nursing school was developed by six intrepid faculty members from Bangkok: Vichien Thavilap, La-oor Hutangkul, Aroon Meepanich, Tarinee Laksanawibul, Mayura Karnjananghul, and Wipawan Issarangkul Na Ayutthaya. Together they began to build the institution from scratch at a hospital in Chiang Mai. The sixty years since then have been filled with vigorous and inspired leadership, dynamic faculty, thousands of devoted students, and generous support from the Thai Government and organizations who believed in them. As a result, the Faculty of Nursing has earned a reputation for excellence in education, research, and community projects.


In preparation for the move to Chiang Mai, three groups of six faculty members from the nursing school at Siriraj Hospital received two years of training in the US. Such was the enthusiasm for the new venture that two of these even paid their own way when they were unable to get funding. On return, the second group was joined by an additional Thai nurse who had been studying abroad, bringing the total number of women returning to Bangkok after training overseas to nineteen. Preparations continued for the move to Chiang Mai and a temporary office was established in Bangkok. On October 3, 1960 the first group of six faculty members made the journey to Chiang Mai. They began to work at Suan Dok Hospital. The name means “Flower Garden” and was given to the hospital because of its position across the road from a revered Buddist temple known as Wat Suan Dok. Today Suan Dok Hospital is known as Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital.

At that time, there was a chronic shortage of nurses and very little provision for training in Chiang Mai. The six faculty members had to put in place all the details necessary to begin training student nurses. Once the preparations were over, a one-year training program in practical nursing was initiated. There were 28 students, male and female, in the first class. The conditions were less than ideal. Because of space limitations and lack of a nursing laboratory, students were required to use the beds in their own dormitory for practical demonstrations during the day.

Fortunately, the situation quickly improved, but the faculty still had much to do. They rearranged the wards, introduced a more appropriate system of shifts, and developed systems for medication and nursing records. Head Nurses were appointed to be responsible for the personnel working under them. A textbook of nursing procedures was developed, and nurses began to liaise in practical ways with all the units of the hospital. Because of the shortage of nurses, the six tireless faculty frequently found themselves lending the students a hand with patient care.


1961 saw the beginning of a three-year diploma program for nursing students, with an additional six months of midwifery training. At that time, it was the policy of the School of Medicine to admit only students from Northern Thailand; 16 students enrolled in the first class.

By 1962, students were accepted from all over Thailand and the enrollment increased to 50 for the second diploma course. The cost of the program was reasonable, making it feasible for a variety of students to attend, provided they had graduated from high school.

By this time there were 12 faculty members. In addition to their regular duties, they were expected to become “House Mothers,” which meant offering their support to the students even when not working and making themselves available as consultants. At that time, young Thais rarely left their parents’ home before marriage, and many remained in the family home even after marriage. Consequently, these early nursing students needed encouragement to become independent. To complement this, Buddhist monks were invited to the Division of Nursing on the first Tuesday of every month to listen to students’ problems and offer moral guidance.

During the development phase of the new nursing school, the USOM sent Lydia Reich to work with the faculty on the formation of a curriculum and to organize the necessary equipment. Miss Reich came from Bangkok, where she had been a consultant at Siriraj Hospital on their bachelor degree program. She was a senior nurse and had the reputation of taking care of people as if they were her own relatives. Miss Reich was connected with the China Medical Board of New York (CMB), and through her, the School of Nursing became acquainted with CMB staff. CMB already had a relationship with the School of Medicine and became a sponsor of the School of Nursing as well. CMB provided not only funding for audio-visual equipment, but also created an endowment fund to allow faculty members to pursue Master’s degrees in the US to further develop their nursing education and research skills.

The USOM appointed Nina Lee to replace Miss Reich as a consultant to Chiang Mai in 1963. Miss Lee had a Master of Nursing Administration and brought a new perspective to the nursing school. She initiated the first workshop, which focused on the responsibility of nurses in service and how to define their roles. This was a totally new and very successful concept. Thus began the practice of holding workshops that exists until today.

In 1965, the second group of students graduated from the diploma course, providing an additional 50 trained and educated nurses to the workforce. Together with the first 16 nurses with diplomas and the graduates from the ongoing one-year practical nursing course, a substantial number of trained workers were graduating from the nursing school: a remarkable feat in just five years from such small beginnings.

Chiang Mai University was established in 1964 by the Ministry of University Affairs and was Thailand’s first university outside of Bangkok. The University’s goal was to provide educational knowledge and skills, to promote research, academic and professional achievement, to provide community services, and to preserve the national culture. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej granted Chiang Mai University a royal charter, and on March 1, 1965, His Majesty officially opened the university.

It was proposed that the School of Medicine be integrated into the newly opened Chiang Mai University, and it became the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University later that year. The Division of Nursing remained part of the Faculty of Medicine.

Joining the university meant many changes. Associate Professor Dr. Vichien Thaveelap, one of the original six faculty members from Siriraj Hospital, was appointed The Head of the Division, in 1963. She was in charge of nursing education and service at that time. Ajarn (which can be translated to “esteemed teacher”) La-oor Hutangkul, Assistant Head and another of the original six faculty members, had the responsibility for academic affairs. Together they began to prepare for integration into Chiang Mai University, and in particular to plan for the development of a bachelor’s degree program in nursing.

Chiang Mai University followed an interdisciplinary approach to education, offering students flexibility in their choice of individual courses. Each course provided credits towards the target qualification. A typical course consisted of three hours of study per week, awarding three credits. The academic year consisted of two semesters.

Bringing the educational system in the Division of Nursing into line with that of CMU introduced significant changes, which included shifting to the semester system. The bachelor’s degree program was planned and implemented with support from the USOM, CMB, the World Health Organization, and the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asian. Graduates would be awarded a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree. During this period, two textbooks were written by Ajarn La-oor Hutangkul, one on physiology and one on basic psychiatry and mental health.

In 1967 Associate Professor Dr. Vichien returned to Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, and Associate Professor Priap Panyawanit became Head of the Division of Nursing. The following year, the Division of Nursing formally became the Department of Nursing, Midwifery, and Hygiene within the Faculty of Medicine. At that time, the USOM sent Beverly Ann Fry to replace Nina Lee, who remained with the department for a year as the last consultant to assist with the integration to the university system.

In 1969, Ajarn Priap proposed the formation of the Faculty of Nursing, as distinct from the Faculty of Medicine. She reorganized the department, creating four separate educational programs: the Practical Nursing program, the Diploma program, the Midwifery program, and the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) program, with one faculty member responsible for each program. Faculty members continued their study for higher education in other universities around the country.

The Faculty of Nursing at Chiang Mai University became a reality on August 15, 1972, with Associate Professor Priap as the first Dean. As a result of the separation from the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Nursing was no longer responsible for nursing services at the hospital and could now focus all its energy on the process of education. Since achieving independent Faculty status, the Faculty of Nursing has grown to be an internationally respected institute of higher education and research. The Faculty of Nursing owes much gratitude to the six intrepid faculty members who worked tirelessly to establish the foundations of the Faculty of Nursing. Significant acknowledgment is also due to the United States Organization Mission and the China Medical Board whose early involvement and faith in the Faculty of Nursing, Chiang Mai University undoubtedly bolstered its success.

Adapted from “Chiang Mai University Faculty of Nursing Chiang Mai Thailand: ‘Wise People Culture Themselves’” (2000). In L. Grey (Ed.). The China Medical Board: History of Institutions Sponsored by China Medical Board, China Medical Board of New York, Inc., New York, pp. 213-223.


Back to top