The professional association: Alberta Association of Registered Nurses

Nurses begain to form Graduate nursing associations in the early days in both Edmonton and Calgary. They joined forces in 1914 to become the Graduate Nurses Association of Alberta. In 1916, the Graduate Nurses Act gave this body the responsibility for the registration of nurses.

The major concern of the Association for many years was the standard of education for student nurses. An amendment to the  1921 Act gave  the responsibility for setting and monitoring standards was given to the University of Alberta, and the Association (which had changed its name to the Alberta Association of Registered Nurses in 1920) continued to lobby for changes.

In 1932, the Weir Report recommended Canada-wide standards for the size of hospital that was required to support a School of Nursing, as well as increased training and education for nursing instructors at these schools. The minimum requirement for admission to the schools was recommended to be high school matriculation rather than Grade 8. These recommendations were strongly supported by the AARN but the changes were a long time in coming.

Extreme shortages in the nursing field during the war encouraged the AARN to launch a recruiting campaign in 1943. It wasn't particularly successful, probably because of all the well-paid war-work that was available to young women at the time. The AARN also contacted married women who had resigned from their nursing positions because of their marriage.

Education and training of nurses continued to be an issue for the AARN and it continued to push for more formal education of nurses rather than using students to staff the hospital. The association proposed to establish a central training school as was the situation in Saskatchewan, but no funding was forthcoming from the government.

In 1967 the AARN developed a list of "delegated medical responsibilities" in order to define which duties were in the nurses' realm and which were medical acts that should not be passed on to them. It served as a guide for hospitals and other organizations for many years, as techniques and practices became more complex.

The AARN was restructured in the sixties and by 1965 there were five full-time staff members to deal with the increasing activities and responsibilities of the Association. The following year an amendment to the Registered Nurses Act designated the AARN as the nurses' bargaining agent. The Association continued in this role until the formation of the United Nurses of Alberta as a separate bargaining unit in 1977.

The AARN continues to act on behalf of the nurses in their professional capacities. Their continued efforts in terms of legislation covering nursing regulations and professionalism resulted in the passage of the Nursing Profession Act in 1983 - finally legislating mandatory registration of nurses, a goal of the AARN for many years.

In 2005, that legislation was superceded by the Health Professions Act. This new governing law brought several changes to the professional association, including a name change to the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta.