Should You Join a Professional Nursing Association? Which One?
If you’ve been a nurse for any amount of time, you know just how many different professional associations are out there. You might even be a member of one or two already. Most healthcare professionals join these organizations because they’re told they should. They might not be certain about the benefits of membership — they just know it looks great on a résumé. But membership in these organizations affords more opportunities than meet the eye.
Nursing associations cater to a range of nursing specialties
There are countless professional nursing associations available, but you don’t need to join every single one. While the resources these organizations provide might be similar, each association offers unique benefits and opportunities to its members.
If you’re thinking about joining an association, it’s a good idea to research the benefits. Determine which association is the best match for your own professional needs. The American Nurses Association is one of the most far-reaching professional associations for nurses in the United States. Its size allows it to offer extensive resources, awards, and local affiliates. But a smaller association like the Society of Pediatric Nurses offers resources and connections specifically tailored for pediatric nurses.
There are many other specialized nursing associations, each catering to a different group of healthcare professionals. Examples include:
- Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses
- Emergency Nurses Association
- Oncology Nursing Society
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses
How to choose the right professional nursing association
Once you decide you want to join a professional nursing association, the next step is to decide which one is the right fit. Ask yourself the following questions to narrow down your choices:
- Why do you want to join? Every organization will offer different benefits. If your main goal is networking, find one with a large community and a variety of connection opportunities. If you’re more focused on continuing education, look for associations offering frequent conferences, webinars, and other resources.
- Which associations offer you the most value? The value you’ll gain from association membership depends on your unique needs. Explore potential associations and weigh the value of your benefit against the costs and commitments of membership.
- Do you meet the membership criteria? Each association will have its own set of membership criteria and terms. Some are open to all nurses; others are invitation only or require a particular certification or level of education.
Take advantage of all association resources
Some nurses join professional associations for an impressive line item on their résumé. But a nursing association can offer so much more than a leg-up on a job application!
Professional associations are like anything else: You get as much out of it as you put into it. To experience its real value, take advantage of the full range of resources and opportunities your association offers. Attend continuing education events, subscribe to industry newsletters, network with fellow members on community boards, and apply for scholarships to go back to school. The right association will provide resources to help you achieve new levels of professional development and reach your full potential as a nurse.