|On 24 September 1912 a group of nurses met in a flat in Stensberggaten in Kristiania. Their intention was to found Norsk Sykepleierskeforbund, the Norwegian Nurses Organisation.
The statutory general meeting was held the very next evening in one of the city’s hotels. Bergljot Larsson, a nurse from Ulleval Hospital, was elected president of the organisation. Not everyone was acceptable as a member. The Organisation’s statutes required a certain level of nursing skills. Members had to have thorough training or broad experience. As its emblem, it chose a sun breaking through cloud. This said a great deal about its professional ideals: a nurse should provide care and relief when things looked bad. The ethical values of the nurses were important to the founders.
Between the wars, the Norwegian Nurses Organisation (NNO) worked hard to promote nurses as a uniform professional group. It was very much a question of gathering together the best nurses. The Organisation drew a line between nurses with training and those without. In this way it also acquired power. It had the right to define who belonged to the professional community and who could be excluded. Nurses emerged from the inter-war period as a clearly defined professional group.
After the war the Storting passed a law giving its official seal of approval to the certification of nurses. In 1949, the NNO changed its name to the gender-neutral Norsk Sykepleierforbund. As time passed,
the Organisation also took on the tasks of a trade union in its ordinary sense. The system of elected officers was developed in order to promote the members’ professional development and pay and
working conditions. In 1972, the nurses surprised the whole country by striking for the first time for higher pay. They showed then that there was a limit to their patience, even if they were responsible
for life and death. They simply demanded the right to be employees on a par with other groups in society. This strike was in many ways a showdown with the vocational ideology.
Since the 1970s, the authorities have taken extensive measures to strengthen health care in Norway. This has led to a steep increase in the number of nurses. NNO currently has 96,000 members and is a member of Unio (the Confederation of Unions for Professionals, Norway).