Answers to this question vary depending on the level of nursing education and practice. I have been a member of different types organizations at different stages of my career depending on my practice setting, type of patients I cared for, and the certifications I earned. I have always seen the value of association membership in helping me to advance my career, but clearly all professionals don't feel the same way. As a result, membership in organizations has been decreasing in recent years. Maybe you should take a look to determine if membership will help you achieve your career aspirations.
First, some of us got our introduction into a membership society with honor societies. Your first membership in an honor society may have started as far back as high school. This is membership by invitation and doesn't necessarily imply a personal committment or involvement.
How about membership in a State Nurses Association? Now you're making a conscious choice to affiliate yourself with fellow nursing professionals who have common goals to advance the nursing profession and to protect the rights of nurses as a whole.
As you have move further into your career, you may choose a specialy area such as rehabilitation, critical care, or medical surgical nursing. If you have earned certification in your specialty, you certainly have a made an effort to solidify your commitment to the specialty. I recommend that if you have not joined the related nursing organization, go online and find out what they have to offer you. There are mentorship opportunities, local meetings, and continuing education offerings to help you maintain your certification.
Lastly, there are interdisciplinary organizations such as American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, or American Pain Society. These organizations are made up of individuals from multiple health professions and members of the healthcare industry who have common goals for researching, diagnosis, managing, and treating specific diseases or caring for a partcilar body system. As you develop your career, it will be imperative for you to be activity involved in a professional organization. Don't wait until it's time to make the next move. Membership may enhance your career at any stage.
By Karen Innocent, MS, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, CMSRN