Nurses are among the most trusted and most valuable healthcare professionals. They may work in different fields, and various capacities, but their contribution to the public’s well-being is invaluable. It is relevant to look deeper into the history of this profession to see how it has developed and transformed in recent centuries.
History of Nursing
The First Educational Programs
Discussing modern nursing traditionally starts with the figure of Florence Nightingale. She led a group of female nurses who attended to British soldiers during the Crimea War. Later she initiated the establishment of the first nursery educational programs in British hospitals. In the United States, such programs started operating in 1873 and were created in line with Nightingale’s ideas (University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, n.d.). Ten years after the establishment of the first nursery programs, their number increased to 35, and by 1900 the figure exceeded 400 (Egenes, 2017, p. 10). The schools were mostly affiliated with or owned by hospitals providing them with professional nurses (University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, n.d.). While many shortcomings can be mentioned concerning those early programs (for example, their exploitative nature), they have contributed to significant transformations of medicine (University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, n.d.). These educational programs emphasized that patients were not only treated in cases of emergencies, but also received the continuous care they required, that their needs were met, and the assistance in their daily activities was provided. The presence of trained nurses helped to transform treatment into a more human procedure, and hospitals into cleaner and more orderly places.
The first professional nursing organizations
Another important step in the history of nursing was the development of the first professional nursing organizations. In 1896 the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (later renamed American Nurses Association) was established (Egenes, 2017, p. 12). The objectives of the organization were to promote licensure for nurses, develop a code of ethics, and advocate for the financial and professional interests of nurses (Egenes, 2017, p. 12). Other significant organizations created at the beginning of the twentieth century include the National Organization for Public Health Nursing and American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools on Nursing (University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, n.d.; Egenes, 2017, p. 13). The latter was particularly concerned with improving the standards of nursery education. Some problems as gender inequality and racial segregation were still the issues in the profession, but the creation of professional nursery associations noticeably improved the services provided to patients (University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, n.d.). Moreover, it assisted in developing better legal and financial conditions, enhanced the working experience of many nurses, and popularized the work of a nurse. It also helped to raise the educational and ethical standards of the profession.
Modern Professional Nursing Organizations
National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists
These days there are numerous nursing organizations that contribute to the development of services provided in different parts of the US to people with various medical conditions. One such organization is the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, founded in 1995. It is a membership organization that promotes clinical nurse specialists and aims to enhance the quality of services provided while, at the same time, reducing their costs. It has “has more than 2,000 members and represents the more than 70,000 clinical nurse specialists” (About us, n.d.). Individual membership is $165.00 a year; however, for nursing students and retired clinical nurse specialists, the fee is lower – $133.00 and $92.00, respectively (Become a member, n.d.). This association also offers a variety of institutional memberships with the fee ranging from $765 to $7,633 (Become a member, n.d.). It provides “educational, networking, and mentoring opportunities” for clinical nurse specialists. It represents their interests in legislative and regulatory processes, as well as in licensing and accreditation (Mission and goals, n.d.). Like many other organizations, they are now working on the response to COVID-19 pandemic. Among the resources they offer, there is an eight-session Webinar series “Conquering stress in difficult times”. It can be a helpful tool for healthcare specialists who face sufferings every day and feel the responsibility of being on the frontline of fighting the pandemic.
Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association
Another important organization is the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. It was founded in 1981 by a group of gerontological nurse practitioners. This association promotes advanced care services provided to older adults. They want to ensure that aging people can receive the continuum of healthcare, including “primary, acute, post-acute care, home care, and long-term care” (About GAPNA, n.d.). They fund education and research in that sphere, offering networking opportunities for patients and for specialists who work with older adults. The organization issues an academic journal Geriatric Nursing. Regular membership is $100.00 a year, while the ones for students and retired practitioners are $60 and $75, respectively (Membership information, n.d.). This association’s activity is particularly valuable since it offers a variety of tools for specialists who work with older adults since this field has been neglected for a long time. Giving older people a chance to receive quality care can enhance their existence, giving them opportunities to lead happier and healthier lives. One of the current issues the organization is working on is adapting its practices to respond to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have a variety of resources and information sources they offer to specialists working with older people during this time of crisis (COVID-19 resources, 2020). One of the major aspects they concentrate on is promoting telehealth as one of the best opportunities for nurses and their patients to continue their communication without endangering patients health.
The Importance of Professional Nursing Organizations
Professional nursing organizations, in general, are rather important to nursing as a profession since they provide networking opportunities for specialists who work in the same spheres and face similar challenges. They promote educational programs and fund research, which can help to enhance the quality of services provided to patients and offer assistance in financial and legislative difficulties encountered by hospitals or individual nurses. The work of such organizations helps to promote the profession of nurses, attracting attention to the difficulties they face and highlighting the importance and societal value of the job they do. Students who want to continue working in a particular sphere as nurses can become members of one of such associations, which can eventually make their career more successful, fruitful, and satisfying.
Millions of nurses around the US work hard every day to make the lives of their patients easier. These days many of them risk their lives fighting the global crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is essential that they have access to resources and support they need, be it financial assistance, educational programs and research or stress management classes. They need these tools to enhance their working experience and to improve the quality of care they provide.
- About GAPNA. (n.d.). Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. Web.
- About Us. (n.d.). National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. Web.
- Become a member. (n.d.). National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. Web.
- COVID-19 resources. (2020). Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. Web.
- Egenes, K. J. (2017). History of nursing. In G. M. Roux & J. A. Halstead (Eds.), Issues and trends in nursing: Essential knowledge for today and tomorrow (pp. 1–26). Jones and Bartlett Learning.
- Membership information. (n.d.). Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. Web.
- University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. (n.d.). American nursing: An introduction to the past. Web.