Whether you’re a recent graduate or a seasoned caregiver, joining a professional healthcare organization is the perfect way to get your foot in the door, get the support you need, and to further your lifelong journey in the healthcare field. These organizations come as broad as national nursing organizations, or as specific as state specialty organizations
M. Bridget Nettleton, PhD, RN, CNE, Education and Workforce Consultant for Davin Healthcare, took some time to discuss her experience with professional healthcare organizations.
“As a new graduate nurse, I was encouraged to join my local professional nursing organization. The umbrella governing organizations were the American Nurses Association and the New York State Nurses Association. At the time, the local association was called District #9 since the state was divided into districts. Subsequently, the name was changed to the Northeastern New York Professional Nursing Organization or NNYPNO.
“There are several benefits to membership in this organization including opportunities to mentor or be mentored by colleagues, to have more influence on the profession of nursing through policymaking and advocacy, and to speak in one voice on issues that are important to the profession and those in our care. When choosing which organization to join, it is important to familiarize yourself with its mission and purpose. This assures congruence with your personal and professional goals.
“For example, the mission and purpose of NNYPNO are as follows:
“‘Our Mission is to promote collegial support and enhance the practice of the professional nurse in Northeast New York. Our Purpose is to uphold nursing standards of practice, excellence in leadership, education and research, legislation, and community health. We strive to promote an awareness of the benefit and influence of the professional nurse on the wellness of our community.’ (NNYPNO, 2021)
“A wonderful example of implementing this mission as it relates to education and the wellness of the communities we serve was the process of seeking and obtaining legislative support for the initiative entitled ‘the BSN in 10.’ This movement started as a grassroots effort within local nursing associations and was made law in 2017. The beauty of this law is that it recognizes the current entry into practice (usually completion of an associate degree pre-licensure program) while advocating for nurses to continue their education and credentialling beyond the entry-level. It is based on nursing research that demonstrates that patients can achieve enhanced outcomes when their care is managed by baccalaureate-prepared nurses.
“While it is important to join professional organizations, it is also important to serve in the organization. This service may be as a member of a standing committee, as an officer, or as a board member. For NNYPNO, I served as president, vice president, secretary, and board member for many years. It is this service that allows you to contribute to the mission and sustainability of the organization more fully.
“So please consider joining and serving in your local professional organization. You will help advance the profession, strengthen the voice for nursing, provide advocacy for your community, and mentor and network with your peers. As one of my nursing instructors used to say, ‘be part of the solution, not part of the problem.’ We can do great things together.”
Joining a professional organization gives you a new set of resources to help further your professional journey. Each organization has its own set of requirements and fees to join, but the benefits outweigh the steps needed to join.
The best way to get started is to first find an organization that fits your specialty and location, and then follow its guidelines. This site has put together a starter list of organizations: https://jobstars.com/healthcare-professional-associations-organizations/ or you can simply search online for your specialty. From there, you have the keys to unlocking the next stage of your professional career.
Please consider joining a professional organization and taking this very important step to engage with your colleagues and to as they say “pay it forward” for the good of ourselves and the communities we care for each and every day.