Nurses are one of the most abundant and important players in the healthcare landscape, which is in a state of constant flux. If healthcare is going to change to benefit patients, nurses need to have a resounding voice to affect the change. Nurses don’t learn to be leaders in nursing school, rather leadership is developed through professional and personal growth. Although nurses are not directly taught how to be leaders through their coursework, the Code of Ethics for Nurses (ANA, 2015) states in provision 4 and 5, that part of nursing practice is promoting health and safety, preserving wholeness of character and integrity, maintaining competence, and continuing personal and professional growth. Nurses, through individual and collective effort, establish, maintain, and improve the ethical environment of the work setting to keep them conducive to safe quality health care.
As a nurse, it is part of the responsibilities of the career to participate in and contribute to professional organizations. How are we supposed to create positive changes in healthcare if our voices are divided? By uniting within professional organizations, we can combine our forces, ideas and physical capacity to show up for our community and to legislators and make our voices heard.
Aside from being able to make a greater impact on our profession and the healthcare landscape in general, there are plenty of benefits for us if we join these organizations. Some of which include:
- Mentorship – You will meet individuals who have done or are doing what you dream to do. The best part is, they have a growth mindset and are usually happy to help others grow as well.
- Networking – You meet people that are hardworking and passionate about your field. They will inspire you to be a better version of yourself and can also present opportunities that you otherwise would not know about such as employment or speaking opportunities.
- Practice Improvement – Depending on the goals of the organization, by joining, you will be directly impacting nursing practice and the healthcare environment for workers and patients. You will also learn and get inspired from colleagues and modify your own practice methods and environment to improve patient outcomes.
- Opportunities for leadership – Joining a board of directors or becoming an officer is a great way to heighten your experience in the organization. Make sure it is something you really want to do though and that you are not spreading yourself thin
- Advocacy and advancing the profession – Some organizations have certification and education opportunities. They also help to educate their members on current events impacting the field. Organizations help nurses to impact legislation and practice standards with one strong voice.
I have to be real with you though. There are definitely a few drawbacks if it is not something you are extremely passionate about. Make sure that when you decide to join an organization, it shares your mission and vision. Otherwise, you will experience significantly more downsides to participating in these organizations, such as:
- Less time spent with family or participating in hobbies
- Expenses such as gas money to go to meetings, membership dues, and donations
- Working with certain individuals that do not contribute to the organization
I really had to stretch my mind to come up with the downsides! I guess it helps that my hobbies include talking about nursing. If you are considering joining a professional organization, I encourage you to do so. Not only will you be upholding our code and doing what is best for patients, but you will be pleasantly surprised with how many more opportunities for growth that will present themselves to you when you join a professional organization and strive to make a difference.
Leave a comment and share how joining professional organizations has helped you personally and professionally! And as always, if you want ideas or suggestions on what types of organization may be a good fit, leave your question in the comments or send me a message!