Scene from the making of “Mrs Reynolds Needs a Nurse” (1964)

Unprecedented growth, achievement and unrest #

The 1960’s and the 1970’s were a period of unprece­dented growth for the Associ­a­tion, both in member­ship and legisla­tive activ­i­ties. Civil rights, human rights and women’s rights were promi­nent issues in our society, as was the race for space and the contro­ver­sial Vietnam War. Civil unrest and protest were signs of the times. Similarly, future changes to the National Labor Relations Act in 1974 would provide new oppor­tu­ni­ties for nurses to deter­mine their destiny in the workplace, as well as new challenges for WSNA as a multi-purpose profes­sional organi­za­tion. Debate and conflict over the appro­priate role of collec­tive bargaining in the profes­sional associ­a­tion led to new struc­tural arrange­ments that met labor law require­ments, while allowing WSNA to continue to provide services to all regis­tered nurses regard­less of their job title or work setting. WSNA became both the profes­sional associ­a­tion and the labor union for regis­tered nurses in Washington state. These contro­ver­sies resulted in the forma­tion of a committee to look at the multi-purpose nature of the Associ­a­tion. The committee produced the document WSNA — What It Is and What It Does,” which speaks to the multi­pur­pose nature and philos­ophy of the profes­sional association. 

At the same time, the advent of associate degree nursing programs at commu­nity colleges, and masters degree and certifi­cate programs for nurse practi­tioners, heralded major changes in nursing educa­tion, debate over entry level educa­tion and new, more indepen­dent roles for nurses with advanced educa­tion. Nurses also began to recog­nize their poten­tial power through collec­tive action, both in the collec­tive bargaining arena and in legisla­tive and polit­ical action. 

Devel­op­ment of Medicare and Medicaid programs and a clarion call for access to health care for all” provided new oppor­tu­ni­ties for nurses to speak out on behalf of their patients. ANA and WSNA supported new financing programs and champi­oned the concept of access to health care for all. The nursing profes­sion was referred to as the sleeping giant” in health care and by sheer numbers alone — nearly two million nation­ally at the time — nursing was becoming a powerful force with which to be reckoned. 


United States postage stamp commemorating nursing (1961)


  • WSNA member­ship is 3,528.
  • World Première of inter­na­tion­ally-acclaimed nursing educa­tion film, Mrs. Reynolds Needs a Nurse,” written by WSNA member Dolores Deo” Little, is held in October in Seattle. 
  • WSNA recom­mits to helping remove barriers of discrim­i­na­tion wherever they apply to profes­sional nurses. 


  • WSNA Bylaws amended to conform with the (Landrum-Griffin) Labor Manage­ment Disclo­sure Act and ANA Bylaws. 
  • WSNA House of Delegates approves draft revision of Manda­tory Nurse Practice Acts for RNs and LPNs to be intro­duced at 1961 Washington State Legisla­tive Session. 
  • Certi­fi­ca­tion of School Nurses is approved by State Board of Educa­tion to be effec­tive July 1, 1961. The approval is the culmi­na­tion of 8 years work on the part of WSNA members toward certi­fi­ca­tion of school nurses employed by school districts. 
  • After 50 years of lobbying by WSNA, Washington State becomes the 23rd state to achieve Manda­tory Licen­sure for Regis­tered Nurses! 
  • Two-year commu­nity college programs provided for in the Health Amend­ments Acts of 1956 & 1960 allows devel­op­ment of new associate degree nursing programs. 


  • Univer­sity of Washington opens first nursing Doctoral Program, a Nurse Scien­tist” graduate educa­tion program leading to the PhD. 
  • Nurse Practice Act is amended to allow LPN to give medica­tions under the direc­tion of a physi­cian or Regis­tered Nurse.” 


  • Mary Lux becomes the first RN and WSNA Member elected to the Washington State Legis­la­ture, one of only 10 women in the Legis­la­ture at the time. 
  • The American Nurses Associ­a­tion publishes its first Position Paper on nursing educa­tion advocating for the baccalau­reate degree in nursing as the entry level into profes­sional practice. WSNA plans workshops throughout the state to encourage discus­sion and answer questions. Most practicing nurses at the time were gradu­ates of Hospital Diploma Programs. 
  • Nurse Practi­tioner programs and Refresher” courses devel­oped to attract nurses back into practice and to relieve the nursing shortage. 


More than 1200 of the 1700 RNs in 22 Seattle-area hospi­tals sign condi­tional mass resig­na­tions in protest of the Hospital Council’s proposed labor contract (ANA had a no-strike policy at that time).…nurses were paid $400/​mo and lagged behind teachers and secre­taries in pay and benefits. Major improve­ments in salaries and working condi­tions are achieved as WSNA wins a new contract. Resig­na­tions are rescinded and all return to work. Later in the year, ANA rescinds no strike” policy. 


WSNA supports devel­op­ment of a new Baccalau­reate Nursing Program in eastern Washington. 


  • WSNA estab­lishes a special committee to study the Future of Nursing Educa­tion in Washington State.” 
  • WSNA once again intro­duces legis­la­tion proposing Labor Relations rights for employees of non-profit health care facil­i­ties, including binding arbitra­tion to prevent strikes. This bill is not enacted. 
  • WSNA Member­ship grows to 6,311.