Leadership Academy

Tier I - Independent Study

NYSNA’s Leadership Academy is designed to advance and preserve the practice of nursing, and to advocate for Health Care for All in New York, by developing leaders who can address the challenges of our time.

In this introductory tier, participants complete independent study exercises, including basic information about the NYSNA and other topics important to nursing leaders. Those who complete the five Tier 1 modules may apply for Tier II - Leadership Fellows by submitting completed examinations for each module.

At the conclusion of each module, you will find the link to the next. You must complete all modules and take the tests in sequence.

In this module, you will learn about the rich history and infrastructure of NYSNA, as well as its strong new direction. Occasionally links are provided to additional information on NYSNA’s web site. Use these links to explore NYSNA’s website, and obtain information to assist you in the examination at the end of the module. 

Module One 

NYSNA was founded in 1901 as the nation’s first state nurses association. Throughout its history, the Nurses Association’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. In 2012, NYSNA voted to disaffiliate with the ANA. 

Our mission

The mission of the New York State Nurses Association is to support and enhance the practice of the registered professional nurse and improve the public's health by providing leadership in changing the healthcare environment.

Our vision

Nursing is evolving, innovative, accessible and reflects society's diversity. Registered professional nurses are recognized as essential providers of healthcare services and the primary advocate for their patients and the public. Nurses understand the value of collective power and actively engage in organizations that promote nursing practice and community involvement.

An organization of RNs, for RNs

NYSNA’s highest authority is the Voting Body, which includes all members who attend the association’s annual business meeting. At these sessions, members vote on bylaws changes, legislative priorities, and other matters related to the association and the profession.

Board of Directors

A 21-member Board of Directors is responsible for corporate management, as well as fiduciary affairs and is authorized, by provisions of applicable law, to do all things appropriate and necessary for the development and perpetuation of NYSNA. Board members include five officers (President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer), ten Directors at Large and six Regional Directors. These individuals are elected by the entire membership, and each serve a three-year term with a maximum of two consecutive terms in the same office.

Standing Committees

The Committee on Bylaws and the Committee on Finance are standing board committees. Members are appointed by the Board of Directors.


There are two advisory councils, with members appointed by the Board of Directors:

Practice Focus Groups

Seven Practice Focus Groups (PFGs) provide a forum for members to discuss relevant issues and concerns within a specific practice area. Each unit has an executive committee, including a chairperson, vice chairperson and three members-at-large. Executive committee members are elected during annual business meetings, and attend meetings of the Council on Nursing Practice. PFGs include:

  • Adult Health
  • Behavioral Health
  • Emergency Nursing
  • Family/Maternal Child Health
  • Gerontological Health
  • Home Care Health
  • Public Health

Other Advisory Groups

There are two board-appointed advisory groups. The HIV/AIDS Advisors and the Rural Health Committee provide information to the Council on Nursing Practice.

Special Committees

The Board of Directors has the authority to establish special committees as needed.

Representing RNs for Collective Bargaining

NYSNA first showed its concern about the economic security of nurses 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 and 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. Today, NYSNA represents more than 37,000 nurses across New York State.

Since May of 2012, at the direction of the voting body and the NYSNA Board of Directors, NYSNA has taken on a necessary transformation realigning itself to meet the challenges that are faced by the profession of nursing and health care in New York State.

More than 146 local bargaining units are now part of a region-based team which focuses on the specific needs of the members in that region, and works collaboratively and collectively to meet the collective bargaining and healthcare challenges in that region.

NYSNA supports this region-based team with collective bargaining expertise, Nursing Practice and Education Expertise, Internal Organizing, Community and Political Organizing as well as external organizing. NYSNA provides expertise on Health and Safety topics. All of this comes together by the clear direction from the voting body and the implementation of the goals set for each year. 2014's direction and goals are to:

  • Unite public and private sector nurses in a mass movement to win strong contracts
  • Stop the Wall Street attack on patient care
  • Pass safe staffing legislation in the state of NY and
  • Fight for a moratorium on all hospital cuts and closures

It is imperative that we stop the de-regulation of New York's Certificate of Need process, as well as stop the for-profit model from entering our state.

NYSNA has reallocated resources to accomplish the following:

  • That NYSNA is visible and active in every facility
  • Working nurses get the support we need to challenge the status quo and to staunch the shredding of nursing practice.
  • Members receive research and analysis that’s critical to understanding the broader healthcare and socio-political environment.
  • Our union represents nurses throughout NYS, thereby ending wage compression and weak benefits in areas of low union density and enabling nurses to have a voice in care delivery.
  • Communities work with care givers to forge powerful alliances that corporate power brokers can’t crush.

Congress of Bargaining Unit Leaders

The Congress includes the chairpersons or presidents of all NYSNA local bargaining units. This group meets twice a year to discuss common labor and workplace issues. It serves in an advisory capacity to the Executive Director and and the Board of Directors.

Supporting Education and Practice

The Nursing Education and Nursing Practice program’s goal is to protect, preserve and advance the practice of nursing.    

NYSNA represents 37,000 members with a broad spectrum of nursing issues involving education and practice.

Nursing Practice and Education

Registered nurses in the NEP Program are specialists in Nursing Scope and Standard of Practice and analyzing Nursing Practice trends as well as health care trends.  This expertise is brought to our members in order to appropriately frame and support the daily work of the Nurse in NYS.  In an effort to promote high standards of nursing practice while preserving and protecting the profession, NEP staff monitor and work with regulatory agencies, coalitions, and other stakeholders throughout the state.

The NEP Program is committed to maintaining the quality of nursing education in New York State. NEP specialists  serve as a resource for nurse educators and staff development professionals. Career resource materials and information on the profession are available to guidance counselors and instructors at both the high school and college levels.

Continuing Education NYSNA provides continuing education programs that are created by experienced educators who specialize in continuing education for health care professionals.  NEP specialists provide onsite workshops and seminars that cover a broad array of topics and issues. Some of the topics include nursing certification review programs, Health and Safety programs and programs guiding the practice of nursing. NYSNA also offers online courses at its e-leaRN™ website. Offerings include New York State mandatory courses on infection control and identifying child abuse, which can be completed online with the results transmitted electronically to the State Education Department Licensing Division.

Helping Nurses with Addictive Disease

The Statewide Peer Assistance for Nurses (SPAN) program was created by NYSNA in 1992 to provide resources for nurses whose practice was in danger of being impaired by the use of alcohol and other drugs. In 2000, a state law established the program for all RNs and LPNs in the state. NYSNA was first awarded the state contract to administer the SPAN program in 2001.

The program uses the strategies of direct education, support groups, and volunteer RN advocates who mentor SPAN participants. While the program does not provide treatment for addiction itself, it helps connect nurses with the services they need through referrals. Participants also receive help with licensure issues.

SPAN operates a confidential toll-free HELPline (800.45.SPAN.1) that allows nurses to contact the program 24/7. Participants are assessed and mentored by regional SPAN coordinators, who are registered nurses with expertise in treatment for addictive disease.

Promoting legislation that promotes nursing

The Nurses 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.

Over the years, NYSNA has been instrumental in lobbying for other ground-breaking legislation effecting nursing practice such as title protection, restrictions on mandatory overtime, hospital disclosure requirements, and making violence against nurses a class D felony.

Today, the number one legislative Priority of NYSNA is to pass Safe Staffing Legislation in the State of NY to protect patient care and the practice of Nursing.

Political and Community Organizing Department

The Political and Community Organizing (PCO) Department works to promote legislation that will benefit nurses and improve their work environments. Based on a legislative program approved by the Voting Body, staff and NYSNA members participate in lobbying and grassroots activities designed to strengthen nurses’ visibility and clout in the State Capitol. At least one Lobby Day is held each spring in Albany, attended by hundreds of RNs and nursing students.  NYSNA has a vigorous lobbying agenda for 2014 to achieve our number one priority to pass safe staffing ratio legislation.

The PCO staff provide information, training, and support to members interested in political and legislative action. Legislative District Coordinators (LDCs) serve as liaisons with local legislators and reinforce the importance of nursing as a political force. The Council on Legislation and the NYSNA-PAC Board of Trustees help to define the NYSNA legislative agenda and to support political candidates who can advance these goals.

Political Action Committee (NYSNA-PAC)

The NYSNA-PAC is the political action arm of NYSNA. It evaluates candidates for state office, advises the Board of Directors about endorsements, and contributes to the campaigns of those who can advance NYSNA’s legislative objectives. The PAC educates members about the political process and encourages them to vote. The NYSNA-PAC is funded by an annual deduction from each member’s dues. Members who do not want to give to the PAC have a right to decline the contribution from their dues.

Additional Member Services

Resource Center

The NYSNA Strategic Resource Center is the only professionally staffed state nurses’ association library in the country. It houses more than 8,000 volumes and 400 journal titles in nursing, medicine, hospital administration, education and labor relations. Library staff is available to assist members seeking information on a wide range of topics related to nursing and health care.


New York Nurse, the official publication of the NY State Nurses Association, is published several times a year. This publication gives a regular synopsis of the direction that NYSNA is heading, its priorities and how it will address them. It is a great tool to reference NYSNA’s positions on health care, nursing practice, political issues and labor movement concerns.

The Journal of the New York State Nurses Association is a peer-reviewed publication mailed to members at no charge. Research articles are featured that support NYSNA’s goals, the profession of nursing and explore the status of health care in our state and country.

Membership Services

Membership information is processed, updated, and maintained by membership representatives. They can answer questions related to membership status and benefits and promote the association to nonmembers.

Module One Examination

When you have finished studying this module, you may complete the online examination. You are required to achieve a minimum score of 80% on the exam in order to continue onto the next module. After successful completion of each module and examination, you will be notified by a member of the Nursing Education and Nursing Practice program staff that you may continue.

When you have completed all five modules and examinations, you are eligible to apply for consideration as a candidate to become a Fellow in the Leadership Academy.

Applications to the Leadership Academy will be mailed to those members who have completed all five modules in Tier One. The final decision regarding applicants selected to become a Leadership Fellow is made by the NYSNA Board of Directors. We wish you success in your pursuit to become a leader in the New York State Nurses Association.

Please note: Download, print and return the individual module examinations by fax or first-class mail.

Lobbying is an important professional activity for nurses. Although you might think that lobbying is a secret activity carried on by highly paid special interest representatives, lobbying is any effort to influence the decision makers who influence our lives.

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