The American Nurses Association (ANA) is an organization that all nursing students should know. After all, it is the ANA that provides the credentials for nursing specialties, and the ANA that pushes nursing policies and the education of the public on the nursing practice. But to truly understand what the ANA does and stands for today, we will need to take a look back into the beginnings of the American Nurses Association to understand where it came from.
More than 100 years ago, in 1896, a group of dedicated nursing school alumnae decided to stick together and form an organization that would benefit their professions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They formed the Nurses Associated Alumnae in 1901, the name of which was later changed to the American Nurses Association a decade later. For one of the first times ever, nurses had a resource they could go to in order to look into continuing education options, professional nursing guidelines, conference opportunities, and government relations. In addition, the ANA allowed others not in the nursing profession to easily find all of the information they need about nursing from one comprehensive organization. In essence, the ANA acted as the mediator between those in the nursing profession and those outside of it.
Based in Maryland, the ANA had a simple mission of advancing the nursing profession in order to improve the health of all people. Today, its mission remains the same, though it now does much more to aid nurses and the public than before. Now, the organization acts as the strongest advocates for the nursing profession, representing the more than 3.1 million registered nurses practicing in the United States, according to the organization's website. The ANA strives to improve the working condition for nurses employed in hospitals, clinics, and special care facilities. It also regularly improves upon nursing standards so that nurse training and education remains challenging, ensuring that all nurses are well-versed in their profession.
The ANA is also a big proponent for health care reform and continually pushes for community-based health care, more freedom to practice for registered and advanced practice nurses, and more federal funding for nurse training and education. The nurses who join the ANA believe in the same things and are able to fight for these beliefs through the effort of the ANA.