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

40s-Mary-Mahoney-Group

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

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.

1941

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).

1943

The first educational program in Washington for practical nursing is established. WSNA serves on the curriculum advisory committee.

1943

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.

1945

WSNA supports a legislative policy requiring all nurses to have mandatory licensure under the Nurse Practice Act.

1945

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.

1946

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.

1946

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.

1948

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.

1949

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.

1949

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.

1949

The Administrative Nurses Section is formed to address the needs of nurses in administrative and management positions.

1949

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.