This is an open letter from one RN who’s sick and tired of the American Nurses Association (ANA) getting away with propagating the myth that they represent the interests of 2.9 million RNs in this country! Most RNs are not members of the ANA, and in a recently released Annual Report the ANA published that less than 11% of all eligible RNs in the country were members of the ANA or any other similar association/union.

Like so many organizations the ANA is a member organization and thus they can only speak for their members, and yet the ANA allows the media, pundits, elected officials and the public-at-large to believe that they represent the 2.9 million RNs, or the interest of 2.9 million RNs depending on which of their press releases your read.

Nursing is a profession that demands the highest of ethical practices from those who practice this time-honored profession; and in turn organizations that purport to represent nurses should be held to the same high standards, and when organizations such as the ANA promulgates misinformation about the number of RNs that are members they are perpetuating a deception on not only their members but the public as well.

Several years ago when the California Nurses Association (C.N.A.) tried to pass themselves off as the voice of the California RN, I was quick to illustrate in a letter to the editor that they represent just about one-third of California RNs (and most of those RNs were as much members by choice as by being forced to be members via a closed shop agreement). I made clear that the C.N.A. was welcome to represent themselves as a voice or one of the voices of nursing in California, but unless they represented a majority of California RNs they could not be considered “the voice” of the California RN and to their credit to this day they only present themselves as “a voice”.   Now the ANA wants to pass itself off as the voice of the American RN and they do so in couched and carefully constructed sound bites to provide the illusion that all 2.9 million RNs are a united voice and the represented body for that voice is the ANA – how patriarchal and chauvinistic of them!

The most recent example of the ANA arrogance is their endorsement of Senator Barack Obama, and by claiming once again that the ANA represents the interests of the nation’s 2.9 million registered nurses. The ANA needs to reissue their press release to accurately reflect the number of nurses that their organization actually represents, and stop perpetuating the lie that all 2.9 million RNs in this country have acquiesced their voice to this one organization.

This does not mean that the ANA hasn’t promoted programs that have benefited the nursing profession as a whole, but then again one could argue every nursing organization regardless of size, focus, or political persuasion has at some point or another promoted positive nursing change. However this does not give the ANA or any other membership organization liberty to pretend to speak for all nurses! ANA membership is not free, and to be a member of the ANA requires that you pay your dues, so until all 2.9 million (or majority) of RNs sign up as members of the ANA this RN will continue to speak out about the myth that the ANA represents the interests of 2.9 million RNs.

Answer me this who died and elected them our spokes-organization?

If you agree please add you name and your home state to this list and share it far and wide.