Nursing organizations allow nurses to network with other nurses of similar specialties, interests, and education levels. As nursing is a profession that includes a variety of role functions, such as bedside hands-on practitioner, educator, researcher, leader, manager, and more, professional organizations can help nurses of similar roles or aspirations work towards common goals and outcomes.

The various nursing organizations can help a nurse focus on specific interests. For example, nurses who are interested or involved in research can join organizations in their local area, or nationally, who focus on that specialty such as the Southern Nursing Research Society.

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Nursing organizations also help to drive policy and practice. Sigma Theta Tau International (Sigma) is an organization whose mission is to advance world health and celebrate nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership and service. Only nurses who meet certain criteria are invited to join Sigma. Criteria include baccalaureate and higher education degrees and demonstrated excellence in scholarship and achievement in nursing. As a member of Sigma, nurses are offered unique international conference opportunities, continuing education courses, and access to the Sigma research studies.

The American Nurses Association promotes the idea that all nurses should be actively engaged in the organization that represents their specialty. Nurses are a powerful and engaging source of information to engage consumers to transform health and healthcare. Professional organizations can rally around health topics to truly make a difference in the populations they represent. The ANA has partnered with numerous Organizational Affiliates to improve the empowerment of the specialty and focused areas.

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There are many reasons why a nurse might seek to join a professional organization, and membership can be an integral part of promoting a nurse's career. For example, joining an organization and serving as a board member can be a highlight on a resume. Becoming a connector by marketing the scholarships offered by an organization with those nurses in your own network can serve to benefit others in the community. Bringing expert knowledge or skill to organizations in which you belong can also be a positive experience and inspiration to those in your circle.

Other benefits of belonging to a professional nursing organization may include:

  • Certification in the organization's practice area, usually discounted
  • Access to specialty standards of practice
  • Advocacy for political interests
  • Access to experts
  • Networking with leaders in the field
  • Newsletters with practice and specialty-related information
  • Position papers and statements to educate members
  • Discounted rates for continuing education courses
  • Professional or peer-reviewed journals

Nurses should strive to be involved in a formal organization that matches their interest and aspirations. Professional nursing organization involvement can range from simply paying dues to becoming the Chairperson, making policy recommendations, improving patient outcomes, and/or being an advocate for the practice of nursing. Nursing organizations can accomplish incredible feats through networking, connecting, and actively engaging the nurses who strive to make improvements in the profession of nursing.

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