The International Council of Nurses (ICN)

The International Council of Nurses, the oldest of all international nursing organizations,
was formed in 1899. Founded by Mrs. Bedford Fenwick, it held its first meeting in Buffalo, New York, at the World Exposition in 1901. Mrs. Fenwick was the first president of the organization. The membership originally was composed of self-governing national nurses’ associations rather than individual members, although, until 1904, individual members could belong because few countries had organized nursing associations. Its purpose was to encourage communication among nurses of all nations and to provide opportunities for nurses from all over the world to meet and discuss concerns about the profession and about patient care. At the present time, the International Council of Nurses meets once every 4 years. Lists of nursing organizations can be found on the World Wide Web at the following sites: or and click on links to nursing organizations. The links provided at those Web sites can help you to research individual organizations that may be of interest to you. As you review that list, you can understand why some critics suggest that nursing has too many organizations working in too many different directions.

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