Why You Should Join Professional Nursing Associations
Donna Cardillo, RN, BS | Verticalnet, Inc.
Would you like to get a competitive edge in the workplace? Do you want to stay sharp with your knowledge and skills? Would you like to develop your leadership, speaking, and writing abilities? Do you want to have a voice in issues that affect nursing practice, licensure, and other areas? You can do all of this and more by becoming active in your state nurses association and specialty organization.
Although many nurses belong to their specialty organizations, many have never joined their state nurses association (SNA). I’ve heard all the reasons: “It’s too expensive. They don’t represent me. What did they ever do for me?” But you don’t join an SNA out of a sense of responsibility or loyalty, but rather out of a desire to be the best nurse you can be. If you find out “what’s in it” for you, you may be as surprised as I was.
Here are some advantages of involvement in professional associations:
1. Belonging. A number of years ago, I decided to join my SNA because I wanted to be more connected to my profession. When I received my first ANA (www.ana.org) publication and read about what was happening nationally, I suddenly felt I was part of a greater whole, something I hadn’t previously experienced in my 20-plus years in nursing. I realize now what I had been missing out on all those years.
2. Support. You gain an immediate personal and professional support system of others who share your interests and concerns. I had heard that people in my SNA were snobby and aloof but I found quite the opposite when I got out to local chapter meetings. Of course, I made an effort to introduce myself and talk to other members. (See Steps for Successful Networking .) Being connected to a local network of peers and getting out to meetings reminds you that you’re not alone, gives you a chance to let off steam with others who know your experiences, and even laugh about your situation.
3. Education. Professional associations offer opportunities for continuing education, often for minimal or no cost, through meetings, seminars, and conventions. I recently attended a full-day seminar on managed care through my SNA, complete with contact hours and a hot lunch, for $15.
4. Mentoring. Find a mentor or be a mentor. I participated in a mentoring program through my SNA and was assigned to a new graduate. I felt I didn’t have the time to do this but believed working with the new graduate was a way for me to contribute to my profession in a real way. The new grad and I both got something out of the situation and remain friends. Who says nurses eat their young?]