Professional nursing associations support nurses in a variety of ways, including helping them keep pace with fast-moving changes in techniques and technology, influencing healthcare policy, advocating for quality care, and providing connections with peers worldwide.
More than 100 professional nursing associations focus on nursing specialties and locations of practice, including state and regional. The American Nurses Association (ANA), the largest nursing association in the country, represents the interests of about 3.4 million nurses in their careers, credentialing, practice, safety, ethics, policy, and advocacy. The ANA’s mission statement is simple: “Nurses advancing our profession to improve health for all.”
Organizations such as the Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) and the Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) target particular areas of clinical care. Other organizations, such as the Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association and the International Association of Forensic Nurses, concentrate on nursing practice specialties. Regional organizations such as the Florida Nurses Association and the Alaska School Nurses Association focus on issues that impact specific geographic areas.
Nursing associations say the benefits of joining are particularly important to students who are working toward their bachelor’s degree in nursing. In addition to professional associations, several associations exist specifically for student nurses. BSN students can also benefit from the camaraderie and professional insight as they launch into a new phase of their career.
Some of the many benefits of joining nursing associations include:
1. Defining scope of practice and promoting excellence in practice
Associations provide information about professional standards and develop best practices, particularly for nursing specialties. The ANA said this helps to “assure continued understanding and recognition of the diverse professional contributions of nurses.”
2. Influencing healthcare policy
A primary goal of many associations is advocacy efforts for patients, practice, advanced education, and renewed healthcare policies. Nationwide organizations that include the ANA and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) actively lobby legislative bodies for policy changes, care standards, and patient safety.
3. Connecting with mentors
Most nursing associations have mentorship programs that connect students and novices with more experienced nurses. Many specialty nursing associations, such as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) and the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA), focus on culturally sensitive mentorships for targeted support.
4. Fostering career development and leadership opportunities
Nursing associations have the power and reach to support nurses nationwide who are expanding their careers. The National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) has resources for education scholarships and career development. Many associations also develop leadership programs to promote nurse leaders who will represent the interests of the profession.
5. Supporting networking channels
Professional associations offer the opportunity to connect with thousands of other nurses to encourage collaboration, communication, and supportive interactions. Most professional organizations have online message boards and coordinate in-person meetings for career support.
6. Promoting lifelong learning
Professional organizations often provide access to or information about continuing education, professional conferences, and specialty journals that encourage lifelong learning. An essential component of the future of nursing is moving the profession forward with increasing levels of competencies. Associations that foster lifelong learning do just that.
Which Nursing Association Should I Join?
Joining a nursing organization allows professionals and soon-to-be professionals the chance to make a difference in the future of nursing, through lobbying efforts, career development, and promoting excellence in practice, among others.
Among the leading nursing associations are:
- American Nurses Association – The ANA works to promote nurses’ rights, healthcare reforms, and improved standards of care through lobbying efforts for the profession and patients.
- National League for Nurses – With a focus on nursing education, the organization seeks to advance nurses through professional development, exam services, public policy, networking opportunities, and research.
- International Council of Nurses – As an international nursing professional organization, the ICN is made up of more than 130 national nurses associations representing about 20 million nurses worldwide.
- National Student Nurses’ Association – With more than 60,000 members nationwide, the National Student Nurses’ Association aims at promoting and fostering professional development in nursing.
Nursing Associations and Educational Institutions
Many national and international nursing organizations encourage educational institutions to join. At the same time, the schools themselves develop nursing associations tailored specifically to their students.
Duquesne University, a leader in nursing education, has five affiliated student/professional organizations:
- Alpha Tau Delta (ATD) – A national professional fraternity for nursing students.
- Chi Eta Phi (CEP) – A professional organization for registered nurses (RNs) and student nurses representing diverse backgrounds.
- Nurses Christian Fellowship (NCF) – A Christian professional organization and ministry for RNs and student nurses.
- Sigma Theta Tau International – The honor society of nursing.
- Duquesne University Student Nurses’ Association (DUSNA) – A professional student-run nursing organization that promotes nursing education through volunteerism.
About Duquesne University’s Online RN-BSN Degree Program
Duquesne University’s RN to BSN program prepares RNs for new career challenges and the opportunity to advance the nursing profession. With a BSN-education, nurses can pursue opportunities in a wide variety of healthcare settings.
The program’s online format allows RNs to earn a BSN on their own schedule. The BSN degree that is conferred is the same as one earned in a traditional classroom setting. Learn more about the advantages of Duquesne University’s online RN-BSN program and the future of nursing.