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The Best Professional Organizations for Nurses

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Nurses make up the largest group of health care professionals in the United States with more than 2.7 million nurses nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 19 percent by 2022, faster than the average rate for all occupations.

With so many nurses in the workforce during this complex era of health care, it’s important to recognize why networking and collaboration are key. Professional nursing organizations can be a valuable resource for nurses in terms of networking, professional development, advocacy, and education.

Recommended Professional Organizations for Nurses

Rosemary Dale, clinical professor of nursing and chair of the Department of Nursing at the University of Vermont, suggests the following professional nursing organizations:

American Nurses Association

The American Nurses Association (ANA) advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the rights of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.

Sigma Theta Tau International

Sigma Theta Tau International is an elected membership and the Honor Society of Nursing. Founded in 1922, Sigma Theta Tau supports the learning, knowledge, and professional development of nurses making a difference in global health.

State Nursing Associations, such as the Vermont State Nurses’ Association, Inc.

The Vermont State Nurses Association helps registered nurses be involved in decision-making of health care and workplace legislation, practice standards and ethics, as well as workplace issues including occupational health and safety.

Organizations that represent your specific practice

Dale suggests specialized organizations within a specific discipline, such as the Emergency Nurses Association, Nurse Practitioners Association, American Association for Colleges of Nursing (institutional membership), or National Association of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.

How can professional organizations help you advance your nursing career?

  • Professional organizations for nurses can help maintain practice proficiency and keep professional knowledge up-to-date.
  • Provide an opportunity to create communities of interest among nurses to share current information.
  • The organizations present a united voice of advocacy in the community and represent the objectives of the members.
  • Professional organizations are an excellent resource for education by offering conferences, webinars, and online courses and resources for members.

In the age of health care reform, most nurses belong to one or two organizations to help enhance their careers and stay informed, Dale says. “Networking and political advocacy are major benefits,” she says. “Employers are generally supportive of professional organizations in as much as they contribute to the professional development of the workforce.”