Benefits your patients, leadership skills are essential;

Benefits of joining            Joining a professional nursingorganization can empower you, not just in terms of networking and careeropportunities, but also in terms of bringing attention to larger socialjustice issues. However, the main reason that most nurses join suchorganization is for professional development. Being a member of aprofessional organization shows that you are serious about your job andresponsibilities, and also that you care about career advancementand lifelong learning.

Professional organizations help promote professionaldevelopment with membership. Some associations provide CEU’s for free or ata significant discount. Webinars and web-based media formats also aidnurses in learning new information. This last aspect is especially importanttoday, when the nursing profession as a whole is aging, and many Baby Boomernurses are dealing with changes in technology such as EMR and datasystems.  “The goal of advocacy effortsby professional associations is to educate association members, allprofessional nurses, and the public about the importance of broad-basemembership, creative ideas, esprit de corps, and energetic participation inhelping the profession”. (http://nursingworld.

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org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-17-2012/No1-Jan-2012/Professional-Organizations-and-Advocating.html)(Some other thoughts) Professional nursingorganizations enables you to better display leadership and manage conflict.This leadership aspect is especially important for nurses transitioning fromLPN to RN. Nurse leaders with training (As well as experience)are more able to manage workplace conflict and push a higher standard ofcare. In dealing with other professionals as well as your patients, leadershipskills are essential; this increases exponentially when you consider thegeneral environment of diversity, bureaucracy, and perpetually-unfinishedhealthcare reform. The role of the RNs as manager of client care is importantin healthcare today.  The changesoccurring in healthcare are geared to cost containment and to the useof less skilled and less trained personnel… RNs will be less supported byprofessional staff.  That’s why dealing withconflict appropriately is vital for nurses today.

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.

gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725246/) and (Mythoughts from us talking to professor Ornelas, about University hospital goingmagnet status etc. and getting rid of LVNs)            Lifelong education is becomingmore common in higher learning institutions, so individualizing yourapproach to advancements in the field can offer many possibilities for maximizingthe learning process. Using LVNs again for example; for LVNs transitioning toRNs, issues of supervision and leadership become paramount. In general, LVNsfunction in a dependent capacity that requires supervision from an RN orphysician. RNs, on the other hand, may take action independently.

RNs also dealwith a wider range of issues than LVNs. The primary focus for an LVN is the patient…an RN focuses on the patient as well, but often in more complex orunpredictable cases. So, that’s why lifelong learning requires both dedicationand commitment.

(My thoughts from us talking to professor Ornelas, aboutUniversity hospital going magnet status etc. and getting rid of LVNs)            Joining a professional organizationshows a commitment to lifelong learning. Compared to the past, thisconcept of continuing your education beyond college and into your professionalrole is even more important today, especially with the economy as a wholeadjusting into a more skilled workforce. Professional organizations make iteasier to pursue this goal by offering resources at a free or discountedrate, or even by waiving dues for students. (http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-17-2012/No1-Jan-2012/Professional-Organizations-and-Advocating.html)            Not all nurses join professionalorganizations for the educational or career advancement benefits; some havereached a career plateau at which they are satisfied.

However, there are still concretebenefits, since these organizations generally help nurses to stay up todate with changes in the profession.  Toachieve this goal, most professional organizations help with access toperiodicals and newsletters that allow them to communicate to members in atimely manner.  These efforts help to keepmembers aware of issues and help explain developments that may affect nursesand patient care delivery. Researchoriented nurses also benefit from joining professional organizations. Theseentities can also help publish research, either independently or byassociation.

  “In addition to regularcommunication with membership, many associations solicit scholarly manuscriptsof relevance to members and publish the latest findings in a specialty areaand/or the profession. Several organizations can now publish books that meetthe needs of nurses practicing in specialty areas.Major organizations available            The ONS, ANA, and ICN are among themany local and international organizations available for nurses to join.  These organizations are generally open toboth experienced and beginning nurses. Most organizations offer discounts forstudent members, with the notable exception of the nation’s largestnurse-specific professional organization.             The first example I mentioned, theONS, or Oncology Nursing Society, is a national, and well-respectedprofessional nursing organization. In terms of membership dues, these displayrange depending on your status and experience; a practicing RN can expect topay in the neighborhood of $130/year, while those new to the profession andretirees are able to join for a discounted rate.

Membership in ONS is free fornursing students.  In terms ofrequirements, you have to be a practicing nurse, or in nursing school, toreceive the full benefits of membership. However, you can join the organization as a non-RN healthcareprofessional at the associate level. When it comes to specific benefits, “ONS members enjoy steep discountson continuing nursing education, books, and ONCC certification. They also havespecial access to local networking opportunities and evidence-based practiceresources” (ONS, 2018).  Thisorganization is considered distinguished in terms of the opportunities affordedto advocates, especially in terms of nurse leadership training.Distinguished nursing organizations like the ONSalso embraces the power of mentorship. Oncology Nursing Society utilizes uniquementoring programs that advocate for a professional and nurturing environmentin which nurses’ skills are highlighted.

 ONS is an organization that provides a community for oncology nurses whowant to work on evidence-based practice, networking, and advocacyopportunities, “all in an effort to improve quality of life andoutcomes for patients with cancer and their families. Together, ONS and thecancer community seek to reduce the risks, incidence, and burden of cancer byencouraging healthy lifestyles, promoting early detection, and improving themanagement of cancer symptoms and side effects throughout the disease trajectory”(Oncology, 2018).  Though based in theUS, ONS is also committed to global outreach regarding nursing advocacyissues.              The American Nursing Association, orANA, is the largest national professional organization for nurses.  This organization concentrates particularlyon advocacy and policy issues as they intersect with politics andlegislation.  Its dues are slightlyhigher than ONS, being around $200/year.

The ANA does offer some free materialsfor students, but unlike ONS, does not give students a free membership.  Stated goals of the organization, in terms ofbenefits, are career advancement, the ability to stay current, save money,network, and advocate for policy issues, as noted above.  “While the ANA is no longer leading theeffort to require the baccalaureate degree for entry into professional nursingpractice, other professional nursing organizations, such as the AmericanAssociation of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Association of CaliforniaNurse Leaders (ACNL) have recently published position statements recognizingthe baccalaureate degree as the minimal preparation required for professionals”(American, 2018).The ANA is involved in many nursing issues acrossthe country, seeking to affect public policy at a national level.  It works on both state and national levels interms of representation and constituencies. When it comes to its mission and benefits, the organization states, “ANAadvances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursingpractice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in theworkplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbyingthe Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses andthe public” (American, 2018).  ANA haspushed many policy issues over the years, including Medicare reimbursementrules, standardization of codes of ethics, safety issues, and other aspectsthat shape “practice standards and defines the code of ethics for the profession.ANA also keeps the interests of nurses in the forefront of national debate”(American, 2018).

This organization’s size has the risk of limitingits ability to react quickly to local situations. Despite its generalistlimitations and political slant, membership in the ANA is a requirement for mynext example, the International Council of Nurses (ICN).  To qualify for membership for thisorganization, you have to be a student seeking nursing qualifications and havean ANA membership.

There are no extra dues charged on top of the ANA dues forthe additional membership in ICN; it is automatic. The ICN has an internationalscope and scale, but focuses on similar issues to those mentioned above:  professional development, advocacy of safetyand patient rights, leadership and training opportunities, community services,and financial benefits (free bulletins and newsletters). “ICN is a federationof more than 130 national nurses associations; ANA is the U.

S. representative,along with other nursing associations, representing the more than 13 millionnurses worldwide. Founded in 1899, ICN is the first and most wide-reachinginternational organization for health professionals” (Nelson, 2002 and http://www.

icn.ch/).  ICN is run by nurses, and among its variousagendas, it works towards ensuring quality of care that is not differentiatedaccording to socioeconomic status and sound global health policies.  In addition, ICN supports the advancement of “nursingknowledge, and the presence worldwide of a respected nursing profession and acompetent and satisfied nursing workforce. Its mission is to represent nursingworld-wide, advancing the profession, and influencing health policy” (Nelson,2002).  Since the two organizations areinextricably linked, the ICN shares many advocacy points with the ANA.

            All of the above organizationsrevolve around nursing specifically, and include being part of a nurse trainingprogram, at the very least, as a prerequisite of membership. However, nursesalso belong to extra-professional organizations that still involve professionalnursing issues, such as the Coalition on Human Needs, which does not requirethat one be a nurse (or the manager of a nursing organization) to join.  This organization is not open to individualmembers, but instead is joined by whole institutions.

Depending on the size ofthe healthcare facility, dues range widely from $100/year to $3000/year.  “All organizations that make a membershipdues contribution to the Coalition on Human Needs receive complimentary copiesof CHN publications and resources, including the Coalition’s legislativeupdate, The Human Needs Report” (CHN, 2018). Online job and policy forums are also included in membership; overall,the organization represents many facilities working together to work for socialjustice and overall health issues in society, including exploring the linksbetween poor health and the limited access to educational and dietary/exerciseopportunities in low-income areas.  “TheCoalition on Human Needs (CHN) is an alliance of national organizations workingtogether to promote public policies which address the needs of low-income andother vulnerable populations. The Coalition’s members include civil rights,religious, labor and professional organizations and those concerned with thehealth and safety of individuals” (CHN, 2018). Although the organizationfunctions as a think tank or association of think-tanks in practice, it alsorepresents advocacy opportunities.  “CHNconvenes meetings, forums, and working groups of our member organizations toshare information, forge consensus positions, and develop and implementcollaborative strategies on public policy issues. A cornerstone of this activityis our CHN Advocates’ Meetings held every other Friday while Congress is insession to discuss the latest legislative developments” (CHN, 2018).

  So, in all, I looked at the ANA, ICN, ONS,and CHN as specific examples, but these are just some of the various ones outthere for nurses to join.When it comes to leadership, a lot of people dismisstraining and adopt a “you have it or you don’t” attitude.  However, you shouldn’t confuse charisma,which is natural, and leadership, which can arguably be taught. As a leader,joking and messing around can be tempting, but you’re also opening “Pandora’sbox” for your coworkers to clown around at work. They might also take you lessseriously, seeing you less as a leader. Therefore, taking professionaldevelopment and leadership seriously is important to your future within the nursingprofession as a whole. When it comes to the future, as one source notes, “Thegreatest challenge will be to attract qualified nurses to teaching positions inthe midst of a nursing shortage” (Goodin, 2004). Also contributing to theproblem of dwindling teacher numbers are unrealistic expectations,non-competitive salaries and lack of support, which often hinder educatorsrecruitment and retention.

Of course, no one has a crystal ball that’s going totell them what the future is with 100% accuracy. Meeting the abovementionedchallenge of the future may be difficult, but it is necessary for nurseprofessionals, who will undoubtedly find the process of career growth easier inthe context of organizations that help them to form professional connectionsand support vital advocacy issues.   References Goodin, H.(2004).  The nursing shortage in theUnited States of America: an integrativereview of the literature.  Journal of Advanced Nursing,43(4), 335–350. Matthews,J.

(2012). Role of Professional Organizations in Advocating for the Nursing Profession. OJINVol 17 No1. Nelson, M.(2002)  Education for ProfessionalNursing Practice: Looking Backward into the Future.

 OJIN Volume 7 – No 2. AmericanNurses Association (2018).  www.nursingworld.

org  Coalitionon Human Needs (2018).  http://www.chn.org/about/index.

html. OncologyNursing Society (2018).  https://www.ons.org/about  

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