Should You Join Professional Nursing Organizations?
Short answer: yes.
My nursing school seemed entirely composed of instructors who were gung-ho members of every professional organization they could possibly qualify for and “raised” their students to sign up immediately. So I signed up for the ANA and my state’s nurses’ association when I was still a student. They offer special rates (most do so for new graduates as well). Aside from the cheaper rates, I think mostly they said “do this” so I did because it was a relatively easy way to get teachers off my case.
I’ve maintained those memberships and added the ENA as well since I’ve graduated and ended up in that specialty. It’s expensive. Each one is at least US$100, and although they offer discounts on various things, those savings usually don’t come anywhere near “justifying” the cost. If you are a member anyway, though, those discounts come in handy when you have to buy something you would need anyway. For example, I buy my personal malpractice insurance through the ANA, and I got huge discounts for being an ENA member when I pursued my BCEN (emergency nursing board certification).
I am the treasurer for a district chapter of my state’s nursing association, and as such I rub shoulders with nurses who are on the board of the actual statewide nursing association. The dues we pay, I assure you, are used ultimately for the good of our profession. It takes a lot of money to pay someone to run an organization, even as a part-time job. Most nurses doing this are doing it for free, working long and generally thankless hours. Therefore, I now view dues not as a cost-benefit ratio for myself, but as a contribution to the nursing profession in general. Without our collective voice, we lose what little power we have. I think a few hundred dollars a year is worth preserving and improving on that.
Members also receive publications from these organizations. Nurses have a professional responsibility to keep up with current news and research in our field, and membership in professional organizations is a fast track to ensuring your mailbox keeps your reading appetite satisfied.
But what do these organizations actually do? They publish journals, they push for legislation to protect nurses, they come up with stuff like “we should use safety devices to prevent needlesticks,” and in general they provide a way for nurses to be a united force. We do not otherwise have a way to combine our voices, which are actually many. Without our professional organizations, what if an individual nurse wanted to get something done? Say, have it made a felony to assault a nurse (most states consider it a felony to assault a “health care worker,” but, inexplicably, nurses are not in that group)? He or she would be left alone without resources to raise interest, spread the word, find money, navigate the legislative world…my energy would quickly flag. With an organization working on an issue like that, something can actually be accomplished (and has, on that very issue, in some states—not mine yet).
Professional organizations are important. Join some.
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