Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

Role of Professional Organizations in Advocating for the Nursing Profession

Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

Role of Professional Organizations in Advocating for the Nursing Profession

Article excerpt

Abstract

Professional organizations and associations in nursing are critical for generating the energy, flow of ideas, and proactive work needed to maintain a healthy profession that advocates for the needs of its clients and nurses, and the trust of society. In this article the author discusses the characteristics of a profession, reviews the history of professional nursing organizations, and describes the advocacy activities of professional nursing organizations. Throughout, she explains how the three foundational documents of the nursing profession emphasize nursing advocacy by the professional organizations as outlined in the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements. The author concludes by encouraging all nurses to engage in their professional organizations and associations, noting how these organizations contribute to the accountability and voice of the profession to society.

Citation: Matthews, J., (January 31, 2012) "Role of Professional Organizations in Advocating for the Nursing Profession" OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 17, No. 1, Manuscript 3.

DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol17No01Man03

Key words: advocacy, profession, professional association, professional organization, roles, code of ethics for nurses, social policy, standards of practice, scope of practice

Early on, certain individuals within each society began providing care and nourishment for those who were unable to care for themselves. As these individuals became 'care experts,' they began to share with others the practices that worked for them and to train others as apprentices who would someday carry on their work. The evolution of modern nursing from a vocation, to the discipline and profession of nursing, began in the late 1800s as Florence Nightingale articulated her views about how nurses should be trained and educated and how patient care should be provided (Hegge, 2011).

The first training school for nurses in the United States (US) opened In 1873. Twenty years later nursing school administrators felt the time had come to network and share their best practices related to teaching the newly formed discipline of nursing. These nursing administrators formed the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses to establish and maintain a universal standard for training nurses; this society later became the National League for Nursing (NLN) (See Table 1). By 1896, graduate nurses were beginning to seek consistency, specifically in regard to standards in nursing education and competency in nursing practice. Nursing school alumni came together and formed a national organization designed to elevate the standards of nursing education, establish a code of ethics, and promote the interests of nursing. This organization, originally known as the Associated Alumnae of Trained Nurses of the United States and Canada, was renamed the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1911 (ANA, 2009). Thus, the formal foundations were laid for the profession of nursing, and for the interests of professional nurses and all of society.

The purpose of this article is to describe the role of professional nursing organizations in advocating for the nursing profession and for nurses. I will discuss the characteristics of a profession, review the history of professional nursing organizations, and describe the advocacy activities of professional nursing organizations. Throughout, I will explain how the three foundational documents of the nursing profession emphasize nursing advocacy by the professional organizations as outlined in the Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements (ANA, 2001). Finally, I'll conclude by encouraging all nurses to engage in their professional organizations and associations, explaining how these organizations contribute to the accountability and voice of the profession to society.

Beginning in the 1920s, as the new field of sociology began to study societies, disciplines, and organizations, the characteristics of, and criteria for establishing 'what is a profession' were explored. …

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