The best part of nursing organizations is that they are both run by nurses and designed for nurses. Becoming a member of one (or several) is arguably the most efficient way to find career networking opportunities, stay up to date on best practices, and continue your professional development on an informal basis.
If you don’t currently belong to any nursing organizations, we urge you to join one now. Even if you’re a new nurse right out of school, a membership is a valuable tool—it can help you to “connect the dots” between your nursing education and professional practice. The most obvious place to start is with the nationally known American Nursing Association (ANA), but you may find joining your state’s ANA chapter (listed here) brings you even closer to the benefits of membership.
In addition to generalized nursing groups like the ANA, there are dozens of special-interest nursing organizations. If you work with a specific patient population—anything from diabetic to pediatric to geriatric—there is an organization to support you. If you have special area of interest, whether you’re working within it now or hope to move into it, there is an organization to support you. (This includes specialty areas like informatics, case management, infection control, trauma, forensics, ambulatory care and more—browse them here—and some of these are linked to specialty certifications.) If you yourself belong to a specific demographic within nursing, there is an organization for you—this includes minority nurses, male nurses, etc.
These specialized organizations can help you feel empowered within your specific role as a nurse, no matter what it is. You can stay up to date on current practices, read what thought leaders in your field are saying, and get a glimpse at what other hospitals around the country are doing to innovate and advance patient care. When you build your knowledge base in this way, you can engage in thoughtful discussions within your own healthcare organization, not only with your nursing colleagues, but with decision makers as well. In this way, you help to advance the profession and bring about change.
Some employers will even reimburse your membership fees to professional organizations because they consider it part of professional development. The journals and newsletters alone will provide you with a tremendous benefit. And when you actually attend meetings, networking events, or national conferences presented by your organization, you broaden your horizons and widen your perspective—so you don’t feel like you’re stranded on your own little island or practicing nursing within a bubble.
True patient advocacy goes beyond advocating for the needs of the patients currently under your personal care. It means having the passion and the knowledge to identify opportunities to advocate for every consumer who relies on our current healthcare system. While nurses have an individual responsibility to advocate for individual patients, they also have the ethical responsibility to approach broader advocacy issues as a united group of nursing professionals.
Do you want to make a difference in the lives of your patients? Empower yourself with knowledge through an online RN to BSN or RN to BSN/MSN degree. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees, including programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in nursing education, nursing informatics, and executive leadership.