Being a Difference Maker Beyond the Bedside: The Benefits of Joining Nursing Organizations

Happy Nurses Month 2022 from CareerStaff Unlimited, America’s leading nurse recruitment company! We’re wrapping up our celebration of Nurses Month with a look at the benefits of joining nursing organizations, along with a rundown of some of the more notable nurse associations to join.

And it’s the perfect time to do so! The focus of this final week of Nurses Month is on community development, according to the American Nurses Association (ANA), the annual planner and organizer of Nurses Month.

That means focusing on “engaging with your community this week,” as the official Nurses Month website puts it, “whether virtually or in-person. Educate members of your community on what nurses do beyond the bedside — advocacy, shaping public policy, or serving as organizational board members, among other duties. Encourage them to support current and future nurses.”

Most nurses would agree that the kind of community outreach discussed above is important. Raising awareness of the work that nurses do “allows for greater opportunities to promote understanding and appreciation,” the ANA explains. And at a time when the nursing profession is facing new challenges related to Covid-19, that community appreciation really matters.

One way to get involved is to join the efforts of a nursing group that’s already working to promote awareness of nurses (among a host of other causes). The ANA is the best known of these groups. But, as you can see below, there are many, many other nurse associations to join.

What are the Benefits of Joining Nursing Organizations?

Besides the goal of engaging the community, how does it really help to join a nurse association? What are the actual benefits of joining nursing organizations for the hard-working nurse professionals who often have so little spare time on their hands?

“These associations are committed to your best interests as a health care worker,” as the Post University Blog points out. “They provide individual support by way of continuing education and scholarships, but that is only the beginning. At the public level, they are responsible for promoting and enacting policies that benefit millions of nurses and their patients.”

Important as these goals are, the benefits of joining nursing organizations go beyond helping to promote awareness and policy. It can also provide a sense of community for those who may not have the luxury of working in the same job for an extended period. For nurses who travel frequently, regular interaction with other like-minded professionals can help curb the loneliness of working in an unfamiliar town or state, and improve the chance of landing new opportunities, too.

What Are the Best Nurse Associations in the U.S.A.?

Understand all the benefits of nurse organization membership in both the community and individual sense, how can you actually tell what nurse associations to join? After all, there’s no shortage of options.

In what’s probably the best list of nursing groups to be found online, features well over a hundred organizations, broken down into state, national, and international categories. That’s the best place to start. If you’re still not quite sure what type of nurse association to join, then read on for a little more guidance.

Option #1: The American Nurses Association (ANA)

The best place to start, especially for new nurses, is membership in the ANA. The best way to do that is to join the ANA’s local state branch in the area where you live (or, more specifically, in the state where you’re licensed). You can find a directory of ANA’s state chapters here.

Option #2: Specialty-focused nursing groups

A large number of specialty-specific nursing organizations are out there, representing a great opportunity for nurses to network with other professionals who are on the same career track as they are.

The largest and perhaps best known of these nurse associations is the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), which is dedicated to nurses working in emergency care. Founded way back in 1922 and serving one of the profession’s oldest specialties, the ENA offers a truly impressive lineup of career resources, particularly those focused on quality and safety in the ER setting.

There are a huge variety of other specialty groups like the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), the Academy of Neonatal Nursing, the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN), the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), and dozens and dozens of others. You can find a more comprehensive list at

Option #3: cultural Nurse Associations

Cultural and regional-based nurse associations can be helpful in serving more specific needs. Examples of these groups include the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) and the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA). You can find more examples at

Option #4: Disease-specific nurse Organizations

Some nurses choose to join organizations that are specific to the treatment of certain diseases — groups that are always in need of volunteers and organizers to help fight a variety of serious diseases. There are many examples of this type of group; the more notable include the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Option #5: Academic and career-focused nursing groups

Many nurse associations exist to promote educational and professional development opportunities among nursing professionals. These groups help connect nurses with services and opportunities to elevate their prospects and achieve the career that best suits their skills and interests.

Dating back to 1893, the National League for Nursing (NLN) is the oldest of these groups, having begun as a training program and now focused primarily on education. One of the largest nursing groups in the United States, the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS), focuses on the quality and availability of nurse accreditation and certification.

In the same vein, the Association of Nursing Professional Development (ANPD) is dedicated to offering nurses the opportunities they need to develop their skills in a way that advances their careers and furthers the important goal of quality patient care. You can find many more groups of this nature on the list.

Option #6: Charity-based nursing Organizations

A passion for helping others is in the DNA of every nurse. Some, though, want to take that drive to the next level — by assisting in care for the less fortunate in some of the world’s most endangered or underserved areas, and by helping the world’s refugees, displaced, and impoverished get the care they desperately need.

Many larger nursing groups like the ANA engage in charitable works. Some groups like Nursing Beyond Borders and the nurse’s program with Doctors Without Borders focus exclusively on this type of work.

Option #7: Politically focused nursing groups

Finally, some groups exist to focus on affecting legislation to improve working conditions for nurses, and treatment conditions for patients. For example, the American Academy of Nursing consists of mostly doctorate-level members who work to influence policy by asserting the role of nurse as a leader.

On a global level, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) works toward improving the political climate for nurses on a worldwide basis. Dating back to 1899, the ICN is also one of the world’s oldest medical associations.

Wondering What Nurse Associations to Join? We Can Help!

For nurses, contributing to their communities by joining a nurse association isn’t just a way to help others, but themselves, too. And that dual theme of developing a sense of community while putting yourself in the position for career opportunities also fits perfectly into the ANA’s 2022 theme of Nurses Make a Difference — and our CareerStaff theme for 2022: More Than a Nurse… a Difference Maker.

If you’re looking for more help choosing a nursing group to join — or even a specialty to pursue — you can get the career guidance you’re seeking with CareerStaff. As one of the nation’s leading nurse employment providers, we know the importance of supporting our workers with the personal and professional opportunities they need to thrive.

Learn more about what opportunities await nurses in the CareerStaff network: You can check out all of our nursing jobs here, or fill out a quick application to get connected with one of our recruitment specialists.

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