Should I Join a Nursing Association?

Once you enter the nursing community, either as a student or as a newly graduated nurse, you will probably receive an offer to join a nursing association. Different associations have different goals, fees, and member benefits. I like being a member of nursing organizations (I’m a member of two) and I think it is incredibly beneficial for most nurses–new and experienced alike.

What is a nursing association?

Nursing associations are formalized groups of nurses that focus on key areas of the nursing profession. There are associations for nursing specialties, nursing students, nurses in the same state, and nurses dedicated to one particular cause, just to name a few. Some associations require special invitations and some are open to all nurses. The good news is that you will have plenty of nursing associations to choose from if you decide it’s right for you.

What is the purpose of a nursing association?

When deciding if joining a nursing association is right for you, you must consider the purpose of the organization.  Nursing associations can serve many purposes but many associations focus on research, continuing education, advocacy, and service projects related to the organization.  Organizations might be active in legislation initiatives at the state or federal level. The organizations might also have conferences or other educational opportunities that help professional nurses with their career development and continued compliance with licensure requirements.

Benefits of Joining a Nursing Association

The most basic and most common benefit of nursing association membership is access to current information about the nursing profession or the specialty served by the organization.  This access often equates to lower cost, more frequent, or exclusive continuing education opportunities. Nursing associations frequently produce their own journals or newsletters to keep members up-to-date on relevant research and events. The associations allow nurses to become involved in advocacy for issues affecting the profession. Membership can also provide the opportunity for networking and professional development. Taking on an active role in the association can benefit you by building your resume and helping to develop your leadership skills.  There are often boards and committees to serve on and these kinds of opportunities can make a big difference in your career. Nursing association conferences offer the opportunity to travel and get continuing education all at the same time. Another big perk to membership is discounts.  Many nursing organizations negotiate discounts for their members on things like nursing equipment, scrubs, and malpractice insurance.

Reasons to Not Join a Nursing Association?

If you’ve gotten this far and find yourself sold on signing up, hold that thought.  It wouldn’t be fair to only tell you the good stuff. Before joining, it’s important to think about what your goals are and what you will use when it comes to your member benefits.  Nursing association membership is usually not free.  To be a member, you must pay dues.  Sometimes, depending on the organization, the dues can be pretty pricey. You must look at what you are buying.  Do you want access to exclusive education or do you believe in the advocacy of the organization?  Evaluating your goals will help you decide if the membership cost is a value to you.  Another thing to consider is time.  What kind of member do you want to be? Are you looking for networking and leadership opportunities or do you want to play more of an inactive role? If you don’t feel like you can possibly add one more thing to your schedule right now but you’d really like to be involved, maybe you can wait before joining when you will have more time to dedicate to being an active member.

Joining a nursing association can be a wonderful addition to your nursing career.  It will offer connections, networking, education, and resources to keep you up-to-date on the issues related to your career. If you decide to join a nursing association, find an organization that is in tune with your goals and see what benefits are waiting for you.