The New York State Nurses Association was founded in 1901 as the nation’s first state nurses association. Throughout its history, NYSNA’s mission has been to promote the interests of registered nurses and to exert its influence to improve the healthcare system.
In 1904, NYSNA officially voted to affiliate with the Nurses Associated Alumnae, a national organization of nurses that was renamed the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1911. NYSNA currently is the largest constituent nurses association in the ANA.
NYSNA opened its first office in New York City in 1926. Headquarters was moved to the Albany area in 1934 and the current building in Latham was occupied in 1995. Offices in New York City and the Buffalo area were added in 1962 and 1979 respectively.
The association’s first initiative was the passage of a state Nurse Practice Act. This law was enacted in 1903 after extensive lobbying efforts by NYSNA and its members. It permitted registration of qualified nurses and created the title “registered nurse.”
In 1938, New York became the first state in the nation to require licensure for “all who nurse for hire.” The legal definition of nursing was revised again in 1972, when New York became the first state to recognize nursing as a distinct and independent health profession
NYSNA’s concern about the economic security of nurses was first demonstrated in 1918 when the association established a Committee on Nurses Relief Fund. In the 1930s and 1940s, the association vigorously promoted the eight-hour day and began to seriously examine employment conditions.
In 1957, the NYSNA House of Delegates unanimously approved the formation of the Economic & General Welfare Program to represent registered nurses for collective bargaining. By 1962, NYSNA had 51 local bargaining units and a decade later became the largest union for registered nurses in the country, representing nearly 30,000 RNs.