Top 10 Nurses' Organizations for Career Development
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.
These organizations also offer professional development for nurses that may not be widely accessible in a nurse’s employing organization, including mentoring and leadership development.
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Top 10 Professional Nurses’ Organizations
How can you get involved? Nurses’ organizations may offer general membership or may target specific roles such as student nurses or critical care nurses.
Professional nursing 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 his or her 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, with 60,000 members, serves as an excellent resource for nursing 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 is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2022. Founded in 1922 by six nurses in Indiana, it 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. ANA works to foster high standards of nursing practice and ethics while promoting nurse safety and wellness. Members can take advantage of mentoring opportunities, continuing education, conferences, professional networking, and membership in state nurses associations. 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 for professional development.
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 nurse faculty and other leaders in nursing education in healthcare organizations and institutions of higher learning.
The NLN offers extensive opportunities for networking, continuing education, assessment services, nursing research grants and other facets of professional development to its 45,000 individual members and 1,100 institutional members.
5. The American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS)
The ABNS promotes specialty nurse certification and ABNS member organizations represent almost 930,000 certified registered nurses around the world. The ABNS promotes lifelong learning and professional development for nurses 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 11,000 members, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) represents the largest specialty of the nursing profession.
Founded in 1991, 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 50,000 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 120,000 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 and accomplished leaders in nursing education, management, practice and research; more than 90 percent hold doctoral degrees and the remaining hold master's degrees. The Academy and its more than 2,800 Fellows create and execute evidence-based and policy-related initiatives to advance health care and distribute expert nursing knowledge.
10. State Nurses Organizations & Chapters
Professional nurses, at all levels, should also join their state nurse association, which is affiliated with the American Nurses Association. Many of the other nursing associations also have state and local chapters. Each state may have unique policies and procedures that govern healthcare in that geographic region.
Membership in your state or regional nursing organization provides easy access to leadership and information that directly impacts your day-to-day practice and professional role.
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