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National League for Nursing Records 1894-1952
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Historical Note

In 1893, a group of courageous women assembled during the Chicago World's Fair to establish the first association of nurses in the United States--the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses. From its inception, the association made its principal objective the "establishment and maintenance of a universal standard of training." In 1912 the society was renamed the National League of Nursing Education (NLNE).

Student nurses served an apprenticeship in which they learned through giving service to a hospital. The preparation of students was a concern to NLNE, which recommended that the two-year training course be lengthened to three years. An eight-hour work day was also encouraged for students. Other critical issues included the qualifications of superintendents, the nature of the curriculum, and the preparation of teachers of nursing. The organization firmly believed that, if the quality of education was to be improved, qualified instructors were essential.

Affiliating nursing training schools with universities, which began in the early 1900s, was viewed by the NLNE as a way of improving the education of nursing students. Nonetheless, the majority of training schools continued to be controlled and administered by hospitals. The lack of standardization in hospital-controlled schools made them difficult to assess. Since no criteria had been established for curriculum construction, it was not possible to determine readily appropriate basic nursing preparation.

At the annual NLNE convention in 1914, members of the Committee on Education initiated discussion on a proposed course of study. Their intent was to elicit ideas from some of the better schools for a model curriculum. The responses were so varied that a Curriculum Committee was formed to define the appropriate education of nurses.

In 1917, the NLNE released the first Standard Curriculum for Schools of Nursing, urging that the document should not be rigidly followed, but rather serve as a guide. Nevertheless, many schools of nursing adhered exactly to the published document. Although the Standard Curriculum had a great impact on the training schools, it was not well received by all groups, particularly the hospital and medical community which criticized the standards for being too high.

On June 16, 1952, at the National League for Nursing Education business meeting, the membership voted to amend the bylaws and become the National League for Nursing, thereby merging with the National Organization of Public Health Nurses (NOPHN) and the ACSN.

For almost six decades, The National League of Nursing Education, parent of all nursing organizations, had been passionately devoted to the cause of advancing nursing education. At the time of the 1952 convention, NLNE members remained fiercely loyal to those traditions and values. Their influence, particularly during the formative period of the National League for Nursing, would have a marked effect on the future of the new NLN.

On June 20, 1952, the National League for Nursing held its first meeting and elected its first board of directors and president.

On June 21, the board had an intensive but enthusiastic session in Atlantic City's Ritz Carlton Hotel where they worked out arrangements for launching a challenging new program made possible by merging the NLNE with the ACSN and the NOPHN. The interests of all three groups would be carried forward at the outset through board representation, staff, and continuation of ongoing programs. Under the new structure, two major divisions would be housed within the NLN: the Division of Nursing Service, responsible for hospital, public health, and industrial nursing; and the Division of Nursing Education, composed of a Department of Diploma and Associate Degree Programs, a Department of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs, and some provision for practical nurses.

The new board authorized the establishment of councils of agency members of the Department of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs and the Department of Public Health Nursing Services. Agency members had automatically transferred to these departments from the ACSN and the NOPHN, respectively.

The National League for Nursing is still very much a leader in advancing the health of diverse communities through nursing. Its current stated mission is to improve education and health outcomes by linking communities and information through collaborating, connecting, creating, serving, and learning.

The NLN membership base consists of more than 2,000 nursing school and health care agencies, and more than 10,000 individual members - nurses, educators, administrators, consumers, and students. There are 43 state and regional constituent leagues.

The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), an independent subsidiary of NLN, is the leading accrediting body for all types of nursing education programs - baccalaureate, master's, associate degree, diploma, and licensed practical nursing - within the U.S. and its territories.

NLN is a major provider of testing services. Its comprehensive line of testing products range from pre-admission testing for nursing school applicants to competency certification for specialty nursing groups and health institutions.

NLN Press publishes hundreds of scholarly and consumer-oriented paperback books, and distributes a line of health-related videos.

NLN's Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), another subsidiary of NLN with its own Board of Directors and President, accredits community and home health care agencies throughout the country through deemed status conferred by the federal government. CHAP develops standards of excellence that assure ethical, humane, and competent care in home, community, and public health settings. CHAP also develops and distributes relevant products, services, and models of care-conducting seminars, publishing standards, and consulting.

(Adapted from "The Entry Dilemma" by Shirley H. Fondiller)