The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, held in Chicago, was known for many things: the World’s Fair that inspired the blockbuster book The Devil in the White City, where the first Ferris wheel premiered, and where the National League for Nursing (NLN) began.
The superintendent at Johns Hopkins Training School in Baltimore, Isabel Hampton, headed the group of superintendents at the fair. Together, they laid the groundwork for the first nursing association in the United States: the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools of Nursing.
The name changed twice. First to the National League of Nursing Education in 1912 and finally to the National League for Nursing in 1952.
“The mission is to promote excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the health of the nation and the global community,” says Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, President and CEO of NLN.
According to Malone, the NLN was founded because, at the time, there were no boundaries, criteria, or standards regarding how nursing should be taught. “In the United States, it was going on your own. Everybody determined what would be taught, and the public deserved to know the criteria,” she says.
“It’s the same issues we have now,” Malone continues. “The public deserves transparency regarding the quality of nurses’ preparations. We were stretching beyond being the doctors’ handmaid. So, how does one stretch to become a professional? You start determining your standards. Not only would we determine them, we would live by them and operationalize them. That’s what the National League for Nursing started with, and that’s what we continue to do.”
The NLN Today
The NLN offers services for over 45,000 individuals and more than 1,000 institutional members.
In addition to its mission, Malone says that the NLN is also guided by its four core values: caring, integrity, diversity and inclusion, and excellence.
Malone explains what the first and last core values mean to the organization. “Caring promotes health, healing, and hope in response to the human condition. I think hope is something that we don’t appreciate enough,” she says. “The ‘excellence’ piece is cocreating and implementing transformative strategies with daring ingenuity. We don’t do anything by ourselves. We are into cocreating and co-implementing, and then transformation.”
The NLN offers members professional development, networking, assessment services, nursing research grants, and public policy advocacy. Regarding professional development, the NLN accomplishes this through a variety of centers.
The Center for the Advancement of the Science of Nursing Education, Malone says, deals with the scientific background for nursing education. While patients are expected to receive evidence-based care, that starts with nursing students receiving evidence-based education.
“With technology moving as fast as it is, we must understand the scientific basis for nursing education,” says Malone. “This distinguishes the National League for Nursing’s belief in the evidence-based.”
In addition, the NLN has a division for credentialing nurse educators. To date, about 15,000 nurse educators have received credentials. They have a certification for clinical educators and credentialing for newly-developed nurse educators.
“I believe that this is so critical to the nursing profession of holding us not just accountable, but also providing an opportunity for recognition,” says Malone.
The NLN’s Center for Transformational Leadership provides nurses with education regarding leadership, and its Center for the Innovation in Education Excellence gives education about simulation and technology and how it will be incorporated into the teaching and education of nurses.
Malone says these exceptional programs for nurse educators make the NLN crucial. “We believe wholeheartedly that unless you address the issues for nurse educators, including salary, the nursing shortage continues,” she says.
The National League for Nursing offers so much more for nursing educators. For additional information, check out their website.
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