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11 Nurse Organizations to Help Boost Your Career

Nurse organizations are devoted to their members’ personal and professional development and the overall advancement of the nursing profession. Joining a reputable organization offers you numerous networking opportunities that provide beneficial professional connections, potentially leading to new career pathways. Many professional nursing organizations also have mentorship programs, continuing education opportunities, certification discounts, online forums, professional and/or peer-reviewed journals with practice-related information and other valuable resources that might only be available to members. Consider these 11 professional nurse organizations to enhance your career development and access valuable perks.

General Nurse Organizations

1. American Nurses Association (ANA)

The ANA tops most lists of preferred organizations because it covers a broad scope of practice, provides numerous ways to stay on top of nursing trends and offers comprehensive benefits for all types of registered nurses (RNs). Founded in 1896, it’s one of the nation’s oldest and largest professional nursing associations. The ANA supports nurses throughout their careers with numerous professional growth opportunities. Some of the ANA’s top perks include:

  • Advancing your nursing career with free development webinars and resources
  • Networking and connecting with colleagues
  • Receiving professional certification discounts
  • Earning free or discounted Continuing Nursing Education credits
  • Taking part in mentorship programs
  • Finding professional opportunities through the ANA Career Center
  • Receiving career advice and a resume review
  • Developing leadership skills through the ANA Leadership Institute
  • Making your voice heard by policymakers
  • Staying current on nursing news and trends with members-only journals and publications

You can join the ANA and your State Nurses Association simultaneously to receive full benefits. Nurses in Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and the District of Columbia may join the ANA Only Limited Membership without state membership. The ANA E-Membership is a virtual membership that offers limited membership benefits, but it’s only available in 12 states, two territories and the District of Columbia. Nursing students may become an ANA Student Subscriber, and those who haven’t earned their registered nursing credentials can become an ANA Subscriber.

2. National League for Nursing (NLN)

Founded three years before the ANA in 1893, the NLN is the oldest professional nurse organization in the country. NLN is dedicated to advancing nursing education through professional development, student exam services, research, public policy and nurse educator certification. The NLN offers memberships to individuals, educational organizations, healthcare agencies, nursing associations and other organizations that promote the education of the nursing workforce. Some of the primary benefits for individual members include:

  • Receiving substantial savings and privileges at NLN meetings
  • Earning free or discounted NLN publications
  • Networking with progressive leaders in nursing education at live and virtual events
  • Enhancing your leadership skills by joining committees
  • Accessing educational and teaching resources
  • Earning discounted certification fees
  • Supporting the future nursing education workforce
  • Accessing NLN research grants and NLN Foundation scholarships
  • Promoting the profession through the Advocacy Action Center

Individuals may join the NLN through three categories. Full Individual membership caters to RNs, faculty members, facility administrators and other individuals interested in promoting excellence in nursing education. Graduate Student membership is for anyone currently enrolled in post-baccalaureate studies. Retired membership applies to individuals who are no longer actively working in the nursing field but want to stay connected.

3. State Nurse Organizations

State nurses’ organizations are usually state chapters of national organizations and provide some of the same benefits on a state level instead of a national one. The most common state nurse organizations are the ANA’s state chapters. National nursing organizations with state chapters usually offer joint memberships at discounted rates to give RNs all the benefits of belonging to both groups.

Belonging to state nursing organizations offers additional networking and educational opportunities within your local region. State groups are also better equipped to help you with state-specific nursing issues, as they concentrate solely on state laws and requirements. Although state groups are generally structured similarly, some may offer more perks than others. Typical benefits include:

  • Local networking opportunities
  • Career and job centers
  • Professional development
  • Educational opportunities
  • Leadership opportunities
  • State association newsletters or other publications
  • Representation in the state government on nursing issues

Specialty Nursing Organizations

Professional nurse organizations also cater to a range of nursing specialties. Joining organizations directly tied to your specialty offers additional benefits over general nursing organizations because they target educational and career development opportunities to your chosen career path. There are countless nursing organizations tied to specialties. These are just a handful of the more popular groups.

4. Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN)

The AMSN is the only specialty nursing organization dedicated to medical-surgical nurses, the single largest nursing specialty nationwide. Formed in 1991, it now represents more than 10,000 med-surg nurses and provides numerous professional development tools and career guidance specifically for the med-surg nursing specialty. Specific benefits of membership include:

  • Subscriptions to peer-reviewed journals and member magazines
  • Discounted access to medical articles
  • Over 15 Continuing Education (CE) credits annually
  • Discounted rates for webinars offering CE credits
  • Access to a two-year archive for active CEs
  • Digital Toolkit in iOS and Android mobile apps
  • AMSN scholarships, grants and awards
  • Discounted rates on annual conventions and other events
  • Free nursing continuing professional development every month

AMSN also has state and local chapters to help members engage in local education and professional development opportunities. Through your membership, you not only have the chance to join local chapters but also to create a local AMSN chapter if one isn’t available.

5. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

The AACN is one of the world’s largest specialty nursing organizations, boasting more than 120,000 members nationwide and around the globe. The international organization currently has over 235 chapters worldwide, allowing nurses to get involved on a local level. Nurses who specialize in caring for acutely and critically ill patients, such as ICU nurses or acute care RNs, may benefit from AACN membership. Primary perks of membership include:

  • Unlimited free CE credits
  • Access to dashboard tracking certification status, CE and CERPs
  • Eligibility for various grants, scholarships and awards
  • Access to an online peer support community
  • Free subscriptions to peer-reviewed journals
  • Access to members-only clinical resources
  • Discounts on critical care nursing certifications
  • Numerous networking events to grow professional contacts

You can join the AACN under six membership options, including active membership for licensed RNs interested in critical care nursing. Affiliate memberships are for LPNs/LVNs, non-nurse professionals or LPN or non-nurse students. Students of accredited, professional nursing programs may opt for student memberships. AACN also offers emeritus, retired and digital-only international memberships.

6. Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)

The ENA is a professional nursing association dedicated to emergency department nurses worldwide. Formed in 1970, the group has grown to include over 50,000 members seeking to advance their careers and improve the emergency nursing practice. Besides national opportunities, the ENA boasts more than 180 state councils and local chapters. Benefits of membership include:

  • Access to the ENA Career Center and ENA Mentoring Program
  • Volunteer and leadership opportunities
  • Free online CE, with new topics added monthly
  • Discounts on education and professional development opportunities
  • An online forum to discuss topics essential to the emergency nursing community
  • Discounts on emergency nursing certifications
  • Digital subscription to a professional journal containing the latest emergency nursing research

Professional RNs may join the ENA as national or international members. Nurses aged 65 or older qualify for a discounted senior membership, and those currently or formerly in the armed forces may opt for a lower-cost military membership. Nonvoting memberships include affiliate, student and digital-only international member options.

7. American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

Advanced practice nurses benefit from membership in the AANP, a nationwide nurse practitioner organization with more than 121,000 members. Established in 1985, the AANP champions the NP role and gives NPs a voice regarding legislation that impacts their careers. Joining the AANP provides many opportunities to strengthen your career and the NP profession while supporting your efforts to positively impact the health of your patients and community. Membership comes with many benefits, including:

  • Member-exclusive discounts on clinical reference tools
  • Discounts on professional NP certifications and recertifications
  • Grants and scholarships specifically for NPs
  • Free subscriptions to two journals related to the NP role
  • Free or significantly discounted CE activities
  • Access to the AANP JobCenter with open NP positions
  • Access to newsletters outlining government policy changes and vital NP issues
  • Numerous networking opportunities online and at AANP conferences and events
  • Access to the Advocacy Center to ensure federal representatives hear your voice

You can join the AANP at every stage of your career, whether you’re a student, recent grad just starting your career, practicing NP or licensed nurse practitioner who’s returned to school for further education. Retired NPs wanting to continue advocating for the NP role enjoy a reduced membership rate, and non-NPs wishing to support the growth of the NP role may join through associate memberships.

8. Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN)

The AORN is a leading national association dedicated to improving surgical patient safety. It was founded in 1949 by operating room nurses seeking to share best practices for patients undergoing operations in surgical rooms nationwide. Joining the AORN supports your personal and professional development as an OR nurse by connecting you to a close-knit community of surgical nurses and beneficial practice and career resources. Valuable member benefits include:

  • Professional development opportunities, including early access to national and local job postings, a salary calculator, scholarships, certification prep courses and more
  • Multiple networking opportunities through local and virtual Chapter memberships, online discussion groups and specialty assemblies
  • Access to clinical practice resources, including presentations and ready-to-use templates
  • More than 200 free CE contact hours to maintain licensure or certification requirements
  • Access to award-winning, peer-reviewed journals and other publications
  • Discounts on global conferences, AORN events, prep courses, education programs, etc.

With multiple membership levels, you can join the AORN community as a nursing student, new RN, staff OR nurse, nurse manager, nurse educator, certified perioperative RN or retired nurse.

Student Nursing Associations

There’s no better time to get involved with a professional nursing organization than when you’re a student filled with questions. It’s especially important to give yourself a head start and pursue all avenues that lead to enhanced career development before embarking in your chosen field.

9. National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)

NSNA is the voice of future nurses and is dedicated to fostering the professional development of nursing students in diploma, associate, baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. Founded in 1952, the NSNA is now 60,000 members strong. It mentors students preparing for initial licensure, offers career development support and conveys the standards, skills and ethics needed as members of the nursing profession. Membership perks include:

  • Free online professional portfolio
  • Scholarship and awards opportunities
  • Subscriptions to professional student nurse magazines
  • Networking and career planning opportunities
  • Nursing student resource guides
  • Discounts on study tools, NCLEX resources, school supplies and more
  • Student membership discounts for select professional nurse organizations
  • Community outreach and leadership development opportunities
  • Discounts on registration fees for the NSNA Annual Convention and MidYear Conference

10. Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA)

HOSA caters to all types of future health professionals, including nursing, medical, dental and allied health occupations. It’s an international student-led organization, initially conceived in six charter states in 1975. It has grown to include 5,200 chapters in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Canada, Mexico, China and Korea. Member benefits and opportunities include:

  • Accessing applications for HOSA-sponsored and partner-sponsored scholarships
  • Seeking health-related internship opportunities
  • Searching for job opportunities and posting resumes
  • Learning about career opportunities through the International Competitive Events Program
  • Subscribing to the HOSA eMagazine

Membership is open to middle school, high school and college students wanting to enter the healthcare profession. Students join HOSA through an online Affiliate Process through their local advisor.

Travel Nursing Associations

11. Professional Association of Nurse Travelers (PANTravelers)

PANTravelers provides a comprehensive educational resource for nurse travelers and other healthcare travelers in the U.S. Established in 2007, it offers professional development, essential information relevant to healthcare travelers and various tools and resources. Membership perks include:

  • Travelers pay calculator
  • Pre-employment testing information
  • Legal advice and services
  • Assistance with taxes
  • Unbiased education information
  • Tips from experienced travelers
  • Articles on pertinent topics

Membership is open to current travelers or those interested in traveling as healthcare professionals. PANTravelers offers a basic membership with limited benefits and full membership with complete access.

Kickstart Your Career with Professional Memberships

Each professional nurse organization has an associated membership fee. Groups with state chapters require members to pay separate fees for national and state memberships. Joining several organizations can get pricey for this reason. It’s wise to compare all the benefits offered by each organization to determine which one(s) best fits your career development needs. If you’re ready to build your resume and career, take your nursing journey to the next level by joining one of these or another professional nursing organization of your choice today.

Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee is Vivian’s Senior Editor & All-Around Wordsmith. As part of the Vivian Health team, she strives to help support the empowerment of nurses and other healthcare professionals in their pursuits to find top-notch travel, staff, local contract and per diem positions faster and easier than ever.

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