Founding Members of the Mary Mahoney Registered Nurses Club (1949).

World War II creates nursing shortage, more challenges and discontent, yet paves way for future success #

Out of the crisis of the Depres­sion Era, WSNA emerged stronger, more efficient and more deter­mined to achieve the goals of its founders. The eight-hour work day had become a reality. Advances in educa­tion and the opening of new occupa­tional fields seemed to indicate a brighter period for nursing. But a second world war, a second serious nursing shortage, use of subsidiary workers, insecu­rity and discon­tent were only a few of the problems encoun­tered during the fourth decade of WSNA history. It seemed that this would not be a time for signif­i­cant advance­ments or accom­plish­ments. Yet, it was the setbacks and the obsta­cles encoun­tered in this period that paved the way for future successes, especially in the new Economic Security program for nurses. The shortage of nurses on the home front and the need for nursing services in military and VA hospi­tals contributed to the increased use of the subsidiary worker. However, at this time, there were no programs estab­lished for pre-service prepa­ra­tion of these workers and profes­sional nurses were concerned about the quality of the nursing care given to the patient. Nurses began to realize that the economic aspects of nursing were impor­tant not only to themselves, but to their patients as well. WSNA, as it has done each time there has been a nursing shortage or economic downturn in this state, worked long and hard in the legis­la­ture to protect an unsus­pecting public from under­trained and unqual­i­fied would-be providers of care.


1940 #

WSGNA changes its name to the Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion (WSNA).


1941 #

  • The United States enters World War II. ANA supports creation of a Cadet Nurse Corps and helps defeat a draft of regis­tered nurses, as more than 100,000 nurses volun­teer for service.
  • General duty staff nurses express unrest and dissat­is­fac­tion due to low salaries and poor working conditions.

1942 #

A State Nursing Council of Defense is created and recom­mends that nurses in the armed forces are carried as members of WSNA for the duration of the War.


1943 #

  • The Indus­trial Nurses Section is organized to address the special needs of nurses working in indus­trial settings (occupa­tional health).
  • The first educa­tional program in Washington for practical nursing is estab­lished. WSNA serves on the curriculum advisory committee.
  • The WSNA House of Delegates autho­rizes the Committee on Standards of Employ­ment to estab­lish certain minimum standards for nurses in hospi­tals, to apply throughout the state of Washington and in August, the Joint Committee of WSNA and the Washington State Hospital Associ­a­tion vote to send each hospital or employer suggested regula­tions affecting the employ­ment of graduate nurses.

1945 #

  • America’s nurses tops all profes­sions in number of volun­teers for active war service.
  • WSNA supports a legisla­tive policy requiring all nurses to have manda­tory licen­sure under the Nurse Practice Act.
  • The WSNA Standards of Employ­ment Committee is directed to set up employ­ment standards for any field of nursing with specific advice of the group concerned and to provide assis­tance with solutions as needed.

1946 #

  • ANA adopts an Economic Security program, endorses the eight-hour day, 40-hour week and calls for elimi­na­tion of discrim­i­na­tion against minority groups in associ­a­tion member­ship. ANA urges every state nurses associ­a­tion to act as the exclu­sive bargaining agents for their members in economic security and collec­tive bargaining.
  • The General Staff Nurses Section, which included all nurses employed in hospi­tals, is dissolved and replaced with the Insti­tu­tional Nurses Section which included only general duty staff nurses working in hospi­tals. Nurses in manage­ment positions would later form a new Section.
  • The Washington State Student Nurse Council was organized.

1947 #

A state committee is appointed to partic­i­pate in the national Study of the Struc­ture of Organized Nursing which leads to the reorga­ni­za­tion of the six national nursing organizations.


1948 #

  • The WSNA Public Health Nursing Section is organized and the Washington state organi­za­tion of Public Health Nursing is dissolved.
  • WSNA adopts the WSNA Economic Security Program. Each Section pledges support for the program and recom­mends that WSNA be desig­nated as the sole collec­tive bargaining agent for members of the associ­a­tion. WSNA dues are raised to actively pursue an Economic Security Program.”

1949 #

  • WSNA is officially certi­fied as the official bargaining agent for nurses employed at Boeing Airplane Company and negoti­ates its first collec­tive bargaining contract.
  • WSNA and the Washington State Hospital Associ­a­tion agree to estab­lish minimum salaries and benefits for nurses in member hospi­tals: $200 per month in Seattle, $190 outside of Seattle for a 40-hour work week.
  • A revised and improved Nurse Practice Act unani­mously passes the Legis­la­ture, and at the same time, a new law licensing practical nurses is also enacted.
  • The Admin­is­tra­tive Nurses Section is formed to address the needs of nurses in admin­is­tra­tive and manage­ment positions.
  • In July, the Mary Mahoney Regis­tered Nurse Club is organized by Ann Foy Baker to provide schol­ar­ships for aspiring young black students inter­ested in nursing, and to encourage member­ship in profes­sional nurses organizations.