History of family nursing

The development of the International Family Nursing Association (IFNA) is a remarkable story of courage and commitment by a dedicated group of international nurses who were united by a goal to improve the health and wellbeing of families around the globe.

As an organisation, IFNA developed out of a history of International Family Nursing Conferences that had been conducted every two to three years since 1988. These meetings brought together informal networks of family nurses, hosted by universities in various countries including Canada, Chile, Japan, Thailand and the USA. Nurses met to discuss family research, interventions and policy, as well as to share strategies for teaching family nursing to undergraduate and graduate nurses. However, except at conferences, a consistent place to communicate was lacking. Family nurses required a record of ongoing scholarship, creativity and professional activity. As well, the complexity and financial cost of hosting an international conference proved difficult for informal family nursing groups in many countries.

In 2009, participants at the 9th International Family Nursing Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, voted to establish IFNA as a formal organisation. Led by IFNA’s first President, Dr. Marcia Van Riper, the newly elected Board of Directors enthusiastically addressed the essential tasks of a new organisation: drafting a mission statement, strategic plan and basic structure of the organisation. Throughout, the beliefs, wishes and dreams of family nurses were solicited, so that the board might incorporate those ideas into the structure IFNA and address what really mattered to its members. Additionally, the Board contracted with Kassalen Meetings and Events to serve as IFNA’s management organisation; they provided invaluable advice and support on both the organisational issues and the conference.

Today, with IFNA a mere decade old, the energy and accomplishments of this organisation are truly impressive. Drawing on expertise of members from around the world, committee work has expanded, initiatives have grown, professional position statements have been carefully drafted and agreed upon, and the scholarship has continued to blossom. Success is undoubtedly strengthened by combining the efforts of clinicians, researchers and educators into a joint mission. And the spirit of the early work remains, with IFNA providing a friendly, engaging and intriguing home where family nurses can find their ‘tribe’ and new members are exceedingly welcome.

In 2017, the UK and Ireland Chapter became the first local chapter of IFNA, followed by the Australia and New Zealand chapter.