Founded in 1916, the Royal College of Nursing is an organisation of registered nurses as well as includes student nurses and healthcare assistants with a membership of over 395,000. Queen II granted its Royal Charter in 1928.
The mission of the Royal College of Nursing or RCN is to represent nurses and the nursing profession, to shape policies related to health and promote excellence in the nursing practices, serving to represent them locally, nationally and around the world. It also acts to influence and lobby governments so that policies can be developed and implemented to improve the quality of the care of patients and build the importance of nursing students, nurses and health care assistants. The RCN also endeavors to support and protect nurses and nursing staff in their employment and to ensure that their interests are protected from a professional standpoint. It maintains a network of stewards and safety representatives provides advice services and ongoing education courses for its members.
There are four libraries that the RCN maintains, one in each country of the United Kingdom, located in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff, with the archives located in Edinburgh. Founded in 1921, the library in London is now known as the UK Library and has 400 current periodicals, 500 videos and 60,000 volumes on nursing and related subjects. There is also the Steinberg Collection of Nursing Research of the RCN, which has over 1,000 nursing dissertations and themes and those dissertations that have been most influential dating from the early 1950s to those most recently published, and the Historical Collection in the UK Library.
The RCN Foundation was launched by the RCN on 1 April 2010 as an independent charitable organisation designed to support nursing and improve the well-being and health of the public. The goal of the Foundation is to help to develop the practice of nursing so the best possible care, advice and support can be given to patients. The Foundation awards grants and bursaries so that the quality and standard of patient care can be improved and new clinical practices can be developed. The Foundation also provides hardship funding so members can get back on track in their profession during times of need
The RCN also has a publishing company which produces a biweekly publication for its members, RCN Bulletin, and Nursing Standard, a publication which can be purchased on newsstands and is available by subscription. It publishes other journals that are available for nurses in specialties such as Nursing Children and Young People, Nursing Older People, Learning Disability Practice and Cancer Nursing Practice.
There are also many opportunities for nurses to participate in higher and continuing education, research and practice development by means of the RCN Institute which is part of the Royal College of Nursing. Its educational opportunities are available across the United Kingdom with a portfolio of primary care, experiential clinical and political leadership development programmes and workshops.
The headquarters of the RCN are in London at 20 Cavendish Square and there are additional offices throughout the UK in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.