Participation in professional organizations has substantially shaped my career and has provided me with opportunities to not only become a more productive, informed and engaged nurse, but also a more thoughtful and globally-connected individual citizen. I encourage everyone, both those who are new to the profession or already established, to engage deeply in the transformative and healing power of our nursing profession through membership in a professional organization.
Active membership brings with it the joy and privilege of helping others beyond those in your immediate workplace and provides access to limitless possibilities for professional achievement and fulfillment, both locally and globally. The nursing profession offers a number of valuable organizations you might consider joining. Some are nursing focused, whereas others are interprofessional or specialty focused.
Regardless of your professional experience or career phase, being an active member in one or more professional organizations has tangible benefits. Obvious benefits include access to local, regional and national conferences, journals and other resources to ensure continuous learning and support licensure or specialty certification. Participation in conferences and other programming, whether in person or virtually, provides the added benefit of an opportunity to interact with scientists and subject-matter experts to share ideas about how to implement new evidence to improve practice and care delivery. Some professional organizations also partner to offer reduced fees for malpractice insurance and continuing education credits.
Exposure to fresh ideas and innovations in care delivery stimulate our creativity and provide an opportunity to tackle complex issues in practice, education, research and policy. Professional organizations offer a rich and unparalleled venue to engage with and learn from talented and successful leaders. The opportunity to network with a diverse group of colleagues, to strengthen your leadership, writing and public speaking skills, and to develop a broader understanding of organizational systems are key benefits. Participating in organizational initiatives such as guideline development, conference planning, policy statement preparation or serving on a journal editorial board stretches your skills, confidence and scholarship.
In my own career, the opportunity to work alongside a diverse group of colleagues on committees or work groups has nudged me to take on new roles and progressively greater responsibility, while also providing me mentorship and support. Taking on active roles in professional organizations has also allowed me to give back to the profession that has given much to me. We all stand on the shoulders of the giants that have come before us, and professional organizations provide a venue for us to pay that legacy forward, both individually and collectively. These organizations play a critical role in capacity building, career development, and succession planning for the profession through scholarships, academic awards, leadership development workshops, formal mentoring programs and research funding.
Contemporary health care is demanding, fast-paced, complex and dynamic. Day-to-day stressors can lead to a loss of purpose and joy in our work. Professional organizations provide programming and networking opportunities that allow us to share our joys and challenges and evolve our careers through meaningful opportunities.
Nurses represent the largest segment of the health care workforce. As such, nursing organizations play an important role in representing and strengthening the capabilities and value that nurses bring to improving health for individuals, families and communities. Ensure your unique voice is included through active participation as we move our profession forward.
Richard Ricciardi, PhD, CRNP, FAAN is a professor at George Washington University School of Nursing, president-elect of Sigma Theta Tau International and past-president of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.