A Synopsis of AUA/SUNA History

In 1968, Alice Morel, a registered nurse at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, New York, spearheaded a meeting for those interested and dedicated to improving education for allied health professionals caring for patients with urological problems. This sparked an interest in urologic education across the country leading to many educational and organizational efforts.

In 1970, the American Urological Association (AUA) provided the first scientific program for 427 urologic health professionals in conjunction with the Annual AUA meeting in Philadelphia. The American Urological Association Allied (AUAA) was formed and the first certification exam was given the same year, a 4-hour oral exam administered by the AUA. Today, the Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates (CBUNA) writes and administers the exam.

By 1977, the AUAA membership grew to 829 and incorporated as a non-profit organization, independent of the AUA. For the first time continuing education credit was given at the AUAA Annual Conference. 

The first Uro-Gram was published in 1973. The official newsletter publication remains very popular with the membership and is now published quarterly in an electronic format. AUAA’s first journal was published in 1980. The mission of the quarterly AUAA Journal was to enhance provider knowledge and improve patient care. Today, Urologic Nursing is published bimonthly and it is because of the dedication over the years of the editors, editorial board, reviewers and the many authors that the publication is recognized as urology nursing’s official journal.

As the field of urology nursing continued to grow, AUAA’s leadership recognized the need for members to be able to network and share information in their specific nursing practice area in urology. Thus, Subspecialty Groups (SSGs) were introduced as an official part of  AUAA. More workshops and meetings also were created to address the diverse needs of the membership. The field of urodynamics became a major focus of the organization and one that remains an important part of SUNA today. The “Annual Symposium” began in 2004 with a focus on Disorders of the Bowel, Bladder and Pelvic Floor. As a result of the Symposium’s success, SUNA held two major national conferences each year: the Annual Symposium held in the spring and the Annual Conference held in the fall.

On April 25, 1995, during the Annual Conference, association members voted to change the name of the organization from AUAA to the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA). The same year, SUNA’s first textbook, Urologic Nursing Principles and Practice was published. That has led to many other significant SUNA publications authored and edited by members to include specialty textbooks, Scope and Standards, Clinical Practice Guidelines, and Patient Education Fact Sheets.

Research has long been a part of SUNA’s mission and two SUNA funded urologic research programs are currently in place. The SUNA Foundation was created in 2006 with a mission to improve urologic nursing care and the lives of people with urologic health issues through funding of urologic nursing research, scholarship and education programs. The Foundation is thriving and holds annual fundraising events, enabling the awarding of multiple scholarships.

At the 38th SUNA Annual Conference, leaders from around the world came together to forge a new alliance called the Global Alliance of Urology Nurses (GAUN). The organization focuses on uniting urology nurses around the world.

In 2009, SUNA celebrated its 40th Annual Conference. The multi-tracked, 4-day event was filled with keynote speakers, excellent faculty and presentations, an exhibit hall, award presentations, and multiple preconference workshops.

SUNA’s great accomplishments through the years would have been impossible without the dedication, commitment, and hard work of SUNA leadership. There have been 36 SUNA and AUAA presidents. Every SUNA President and Board of Directors commits incredible time and energy working behind the scenes to ensure the success of the association. SUNA currently has 43 chapters scattered across the entire United States. SUNA recognizes that chapters are the grassroots connection to the national organization and serve as the vehicle to promote the mission of SUNA. The selfless dedication of all the many professional volunteers over SUNA’s history has ensured is success and tradition of excellence.

Through the years SUNA’s mission has expanded but the organization continues to focus on education. AUAA’s logo featured the lamp of knowledge and the SUNA logo is embossed over the tools of urologic nurses, those being the foley catheter and the cystoscope. SUNA’s membership has always been all inclusive, meaning any health care professional trained and working in the field of urology is eligible for membership. This holistic team approach is unique to SUNA and one that has strengthened it throughout the years. SUNA is proud to be the recognized authority of urologic nursing care and education and sets the standard of urologic education for health care providers and patients.