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Clinician's Corner January: Why Join Your Nursing Organization?

In this month's Clinician's Corner, Director of Nursing Angela Totora, MBA/HA, RN, discusses why nurses should join a professional nursing association. Membership contributes to the promotion, protection, and advancement of the profession. We strengthen our collective voice through membership.

If you are a nurse and haven’t joined a professional association, you may be missing out on many career-building and professional development opportunities.

Nurses join professional nursing organizations for many reasons. Some join to learn what's going on and to stay current in the nursing field. Others want to network with nurses near them by becoming an active member of an organization. Nurses may join a general organization, such as the American Nurses Association, a specialty group, such as the Emergency Nurses Association, a state nursing association or local district group—or one of each. The American Nurses Association promotes the idea that all nurses should be actively engaged in an organization. Nurses can be a powerful group and effective source of information to engage consumers to change healthcare.

What are some of the advantages of joining a professional nursing organization?

Define and promote excellence in practice. Associations are the source of professional standards. “The standards of practice are defined by associations nationally and locally”. “Practices and standards change, and something you’ve done for 20 years is suddenly no longer the best practice. The associations are the ones who will inform you of those changes first,” says Jim D’Alfonso, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Executive Director of Kaiser Permanente Nurse Scholars Academy, and a member of Capella University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences Advisory Board.

Education & Certification: Science and technology change rapidly—and you need to keep up with the changes that affect health care. Many professional organizations offer certification. Becoming certified demonstrates your commitment to excellence in your practice. Many specialty certification boards require you to take continuing education (CE) courses to stay up-to-date in your practice. Some of these boards even offer CE activities to members at reduced prices.

Networking: As a member of a professional association, you'll have plenty of opportunities to meet and get to know other nurses. As a member of a professional organization, you'll get notices announcing national, state, and local conventions that you may be able to attend at a discount rate. Making professional contacts is a big draw at these conventions, where you'll meet other nurses in your specialty. Other networking opportunities include access to online chats or forums on your associations' website. Not only can you network with your peers and other professionals, but you can also hear how others are handling some of the same issues you face.

Targeted products and resources: When you join a professional organization, you may get discounts to obtain online CE, newsletters, certification review materials, and much more. Some nursing organizations offer members discounts on auto, life, and professional liability insurance and feature special credit card offers. Many nursing organizations offer members an official journal that may contain peer-reviewed clinical articles and research relevant to the specialty.

Career assistance: When you're searching for a new job, look to your association's career center for openings, advice, and opportunities. Review job openings for salaries and benefits so you know current earning potentials.

Websites: Practically all nursing associations have websites you can explore. Typically, they offer general information about the association that anyone can access, as well as member-only areas with restricted access.

A sampling of professional organizations:

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

American Association of Neuroscience Nurses

Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses

American Nurses Association is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 4 million registered nurses.

American Psychiatric Nurses Association

Emergency Nurses Association

Louisiana State Nurses Association

National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses is a professional organization for licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses and practical/vocational nursing students in the United States.

National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses

Oncology Nursing Society

Professional Association of Nurse Travelers is a professional organization to advance and protect the nursing profession specialty of travel nursing. Membership is open to nurses, therapists, technicians, and other allied healthcare professionals.

References: Greggs-McQuilkin, Doris RN, BSN, MA. October 2005. Why join a professional nursing organization? Nursing2005: October 2005 - Volume 35 - Issue - p 19

With so many rewards awaiting you as a member of a professional nursing organization, what are you waiting for? Get up to date and join one now!

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