Five Reasons to Join A Professional Nursing Organization

By Gale Klinshaw, president, Gamma Kappa Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society 

Why join a professional organization? 

That’s a great question. Do you join because they told you to in nursing school, it looks good on your resume or perhaps the notability? We have all heard these reasons before. What I learned after I graduated was that everyone has something to gain from belonging to professional organizations.

Here are my top five reasons why you should join a professional nursing organization.

1. Professional growth and development

Belonging to a professional organization provides personal advancement opportunities for the member who becomes involved. Serving on the board or participating in volunteer activities is rewarding and can offer additional networking opportunities. Being an active member can also cultivate your leadership skills, allow you the opportunity to try new things and gain new skills. 

2. Educational opportunities

Nursing and health care science and technology change quickly. Nurses need to be lifelong learners to practice safely. Staying current in your practice and staying up to date on current issues and opportunities is easier when you belong to a professional organization. Many organizations offer continuing education courses (CE) at reduced rates for members and several published journals. Conferences offered can provide educational and networking opportunities. Some offer certifications in your specialty which demonstrates a commitment to excellence in your practice.  

3. Networking

Meeting and interacting with other professionals at any stage in your career is invaluable. Talking to nurses working in specialty areas you may be interested in can open doors and offer you new opportunities. Professional organizations often have online communities to connect with people around the world and many offer job listings. You have the opportunity to build a national or international network to share ideas and make career connections. 

4. Advancing nursing as a profession

Americans have ranked the most trusted profession for the past 19 years, but what about the world’s perspective of nursing? Professional organizations promote safety, health and wellness for nurses in the workplace. Many lobby on behalf of nurses and health care at all levels of government. They work for policy changes advocating on important health issues that affect nurses and the public. The common goal is to improve health care and foster high standards of nursing practice. 

5. Scholarships and research funding

Many organizations offer student scholarships and research grants. Membership fees and fundraising by these organizations are used to help  students at all levels of their nursing education. Nursing research grants are very competitive and these grants often help nurses doing smaller studies that would not be eligible for assistance elsewhere. 

How to select a nursing organization

Which organizations are best for you? It all depends on your interests, and there are many choices. Sigma Theta Tau International, the only nursing honor society, has more than 500 chapters around the world. Membership is by invitation only, and invitees are those who meet academic excellence and integrity standards defined by the organization. The University at Buffalo’s chapter is Gamma Kappa.

On a national level, the American Nurses Association reports they represent the interests of the nation’s 4 million registered nurses. Locally in the Buffalo area, there are organizations such as the Professional Nurses Association of WNY. Some organizations are more specialized according to your area of practice, such as the Holistic Nurses AssociationSociety of Pediatric Nurses and the Emergency Nurses Association, to name a few. Several professional organizations offer student memberships at a reduced rate. You might start with a recommendation from a friend or mentor.

It’s time to make a commitment to nursing and join a professional organization to enjoy the many benefits that will help you grow and succeed throughout your nursing career.

Published October 18, 2021