Professional nursing organizations range from general, such as the ANA, which represents the nursing profession and the interests of its members, to specific, which are those that represent a certain specialty, such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
Professional nursing organizations can help nurses stay current in the field of study or specialty, network with other nurses, as well as many other professional and personal benefits. According to Guerrieri (2010), “Belonging to a professional nursing organization brings increased professionalism, autonomy, and self-regulation while offering additional benefits such as social interactions and peer support” (p.
Networking is certainly one of the benefits offered by nursing organizations to its members, which may include conventions, online discussions, and forums. These social networks provide opportunities for “rapid knowledge exchange and dissemination among many people” (ANA, 2011, p.3). By connecting with other nurses, members may get a chance to hear how others are handling the same issues. Organizations can also contribute to professional growth through networking at local and national meetings.
Moreover, members can serve as officers or committee chairs, which will aid in the development of leadership skills (Guerrieri, 2010). Clearly, networking opportunities offered by many professional nursing organizations are invaluable and can help in many areas such as education, career development, and even give a sense of belonging and encouragement through interactions with other nurses (Guerrieri, 2010).
In addition to having a networking value, professional nursing organizations represent a public image of the nursing profession and its specialties. As such, the organization gains public’s trust in the profession and “the organization builds on this trust as it promotes awareness of public policy and advocates for patient welfare” (Guerrieri, 2010, p.
47). This also gives members opportunities to become more informed about health care policies and
contribute to patient advocacy.
By advocating for the nursing profession, professional organizations, along with their members, “educate the public, policymakers, healthcare administrators, and professionals on specific issues (Matthews, 2012, “Unity in advocacy”). Moreover, organizations lobby on behalf of all nurses at all levels of government on issues that directly affect its members, such as education and practice. Nursing organizations also use networking to get more people who support their views, thereby increasing the chances of success in the legislative process.
Organizations also play an integral part in shaping health policy. By being members of professional nursing associations, nurses at every level have opportunities to get involved in the processes that shape nursing practice. As stated in the article written by Matthews (2012), professional organizations were “created by nurses for nurses to articulate nursing values, integrity, practice, and social policy” (Matthews, 2012, “The profession’s advocacy efforts”).
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