Top 10 Nurses Organizations for Career Development

nurses organizationsBy Kelly Lanigan, RN

Nurses in all stages of their professional practice must commit to ongoing career growth and development. 

Professional nurse organizations offer unique opportunities for networking, career advancement, and promotion of best practice guidelines. 

Professional nurse organizations may also offer access to mentoring and leadership development that may not be widely accessible to professionals in their employing organization.

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Top 10 Nurses Organizations for Career Development

Nurses organizations may offer general membership or may target specific roles such as student nurses or critical care nurses. 

Professional nurse organizations gain strength through the collaborative exchange of ideas, and members benefit from a foundation built on shared professional experiences.

The following professional nurse organizations offer a variety of benefits for any registered nurse looking to enhance their career:

1. The National Student Nurses Association (NSNA)

This nurse organization offers career development support to students who are preparing for initial nursing licensure. The NSNA offers nursing student resource guides, NCLEX resources, and tools for career planning. 

This professional nurse organization serves as an excellent resource for students who are seeking networking opportunities and information about potential career pathways.                                                               

2. Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma)

This organization has 135,000 members and 700 chapters in institutions of higher learning around the world. Sigma was the first organization in the United States to fund nursing research and continues to offer continuing education opportunities, career advice, and leadership development programs to its members.

3. The American Nurses Association (ANA) 

Founded in 1896, the American Nurses Association (ANA) serves as one of the oldest and largest professional nurse organizations in the country. 

Subsidiaries of the ANA include the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Foundation, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center, making it one of the most comprehensive nurse organizations available to professionals.

4. The National League for Nursing (NLN) 

The NLN was founded in 1893 and is the oldest of the professional nurse organizations in the United States. The NLN represents nursing education in healthcare organizations and institutions of higher learning. 

The NLN offers extensive opportunities for networking, continuous education, and professional development.    

5. The American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) 

The ABNS promotes specialty nurse certification and represents approximately 750,000 certified nurses around the world. The ABNS promotes lifelong learning and career development as a means to enhance patient safety and improve healthcare outcomes across a variety of practice settings.  

6. Academy of Medical – Surgical Nurses (AMSN)

With more than 11,500 members, the Academy of Medical – Surgical Nurses (AMSN) represents the largest subspecialty of the nursing profession. 

The AMSN offers clinical practice resources, career guidance, professional development tools, and publications specifically related to the medical – surgical nursing role.

7. The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) 

This nurse organization currently has more than 42,000 members who practice in diverse emergency department settings across the world. The ENA offers members access to clinical resources, job opportunities, free continuing education, and global networking.

8. American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN)

With over 100,000 national and international members, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization. 

The AACN offers critical care certification resources, continuing education opportunities, and networking events that help to support its core values of accountability, innovation, leadership, and collaboration.

9. American Academy of Nursing

Members of the American Academy of Nursing are among the most educated in our profession, with 90% holding doctoral degrees and the remaining 10% holding masters degrees. 

The Academy places a heavy focus on advancing the nursing profession through innovative leadership and the distribution of expert nursing knowledge.

10. State Nurses Organizations

Nurse professionals at all levels should also join their state nurses organization. Each state may have unique policies and procedures that govern healthcare in that geographic region. 

Membership in your state nurses organization provides easy access to leadership and information that directly impacts your day-to-day practice and professional role. 

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