As a nursing student, you’re likely eager to connect with your peers, lay the groundwork for your career, and learn more about the profession you’ll be entering soon – all of which nursing organizations can help you with.
Joining a nursing organization could be your key to unlocking a world of opportunities, connections, and expertise within the nursing field. Whether you’re looking for mentorship, continuing education classes, advocacy initiatives, or simply the camaraderie of like-minded professionals, nursing organizations are your gateway to thriving as a new nurse.
In this guide, we’ll explore the different types of nursing organizations that are available, whether you’re looking for something local or one that caters to a special interest. We’ll also feature some of the most popular organizations in each category — as well as the top benefits of getting involved with them.
Get started by seeing what nursing organizations are in your state:
Different Types of Nursing Organizations
Professional nursing organizations aren’t one-size-fits-all. Each one caters to specific interests, needs, specialties, and more. Many of these organizations can serve you at different points in your career, whether you’re looking for guidance as a first-year nurse or you’re in a leadership position and are looking to give back to others.
Want to learn more? Here’s a breakdown of some of the different types of nursing organizations:
Advanced practice organizations focus on supporting nurses in specialized roles, including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives, in advancing access to quality healthcare. Each organization’s approach differs slightly, but generally includes advocacy, evidence-based practice standards, education, and more. Advanced practice organizations also promote professional development. Many offer resources for those interested in continuing education, including research, grants, and scholarships—all tailored to your niche or specialty.
Another perk of becoming a member is the access you gain to a wider network. By joining one of these organizations, you can connect with thousands of your peers in the industry.
- Example 1: American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
- Example 2: National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS)
- Example 3: American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)
Ethnic and Cultural
There are many nursing organizations that champion and provide support for nurses from specific ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They promote cultural competence in healthcare and offer a sense of belonging to their members. The National Black Nurses Association (NBNA), for example, serves as the professional voice for over 200,000 Black nurses from the U.S., Eastern Caribbean, and Africa, and operates 115 chapters. If you’d like to learn more about ethnic and cultural nursing organizations, this resource from The American Nurses Association is a great starting point.
- Example 1: National Black Nurses Association (NBNA)
- Example 2: National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN)
- Example 3: Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association (AAPINA)
If niche nursing organizations aren’t for you, you can also choose from a wide range of general nursing organizations that are open to anyone, regardless of background or specialty. General organizations offer a broad range of resources, including networking events, continuing education opportunities, and advocacy initiatives. Some popular organizations include The American Nurses Association and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The examples we’ve listed below are a great place to start if you’re looking for access to a wide network and a variety of learning resources.
- Example 1: American Nurses Association (ANA)
- Example 2: National League for Nursing (NLN)
- Example 3: National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
You don’t have to limit yourself to local, state, or even national nursing organizations—there are plenty of global opportunities as well. International nursing organizations connect nurses worldwide, fostering international collaboration and the open exchange of information. These organizations focus on global healthcare issues, leadership development, research, and best practices.
- Example 1: International Council of Nurses (ICN)
- Example 2: Sigma Theta Tau International (Sigma)
- Example 3: Nursing Now
Leadership and Management
These organizations are designed for nurses interested in acquiring leadership roles and management positions within the healthcare industry. They provide leadership development, networking, and educational opportunities to empower members to move into healthcare administration.
- Example 1: American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL)
- Example 2: American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE)
- Example 3: American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE)
Nursing specialty organizations cater to nurses with specific clinical interests or specialties like critical care, oncology, and pediatrics, among many others. They offer specialized education, resources, and networking opportunities according to the niche they are associated with. This can be a great option for you if you’re looking for tailored knowledge and support. The AACN, for example, focuses on critical care nursing, providing resources, certifications, and educational programs designed for nurses working in high-intensity clinical settings.
- Example 1: American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)
- Example 2: Oncology Nursing Society (ONS)
- Example 3: Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)
Special Interest Groups
Special interest groups are nursing organizations that unite professionals who share common passions or work in similar niches. These groups bring together nurses who are keenly interested in areas such as research, technology, or holistic nursing. They offer a platform for in-depth discussions, collaboration, and ongoing learning within these specific niches, enhancing the depth and breadth of nursing practice.
- Example 1: American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA)
- Example 2: American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA)
- Example 3: National Association of School Nurses (NASN) – Research Special Interest Group
State and Local
State and local nursing organizations are vital resources that cater to needs and challenges specific to a given region. They focus on regional healthcare issues and opportunities, and offer tailored, informed, on-the-ground support and a sense of community to members.
These organizations can vary in scope, addressing anything from state-level policies to community initiatives, to concerns specific to a single healthcare facility. Want to learn more about your local nursing organizations? Check out our guide below.
You don’t have to wait until you finish school to join a nursing organization. There are several student nursing organizations that cater to nursing students, offering resources, mentorship, and opportunities to engage in the industry. With the resources you’ll find in these organizations, you’ll be able to hit the ground running when you enter the field.
- Example 1: National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
- Example 2: Student Nurses’ Association of Illinois (SNAI)
- Example 3: Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP)
Benefits of Joining a Nursing Organization
Starting a nursing career, can be both thrilling and terrifying, particularly for new and student nurses. Joining a nursing organization can be a significant step for you personally and professionally, offering the essential support you need to find your footing.
Nursing organizations provide a wealth of resources and a supportive community of professionals ready to guide you. They answer questions, advocate for nurses’ rights, and keep you informed on the latest healthcare trends.
Moreover, they offer leadership opportunities, connect you with experienced mentors, and facilitate connection and collaboration. In essence, they empower you to excel in your nursing career and provide quality patient care. Here are some of the top benefits you’ll find from joining a nursing organization:
Access to Resources
As a new or aspiring nurse, you probably have a lot of questions about the field and the process of building your career. These nursing organizations can be a powerful asset for you as you start your professional journey. Between the various organizations, you’ll find a treasure trove of educational material, research, and tools that can enhance your expertise.
For example, organizations like the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) offer comprehensive resources such as textbooks, online courses, and research databases. These resources can help you stay informed, learn new skills, and excel in your nursing studies and practice.
One major component of nursing organizations is advocacy. These organizations champion nurses’ rights, ensuring your voice is heard on matters that impact your profession and the quality of patient care. The American Nurses Association, for example, has been a leading advocate for nurse staffing ratios and safe working conditions.
As you embark on your career, it’s great to know you have a wider network of professionals and experts in your corner.
Being part of a nursing community provides you with the opportunity to connect with peers who share your passion for patient care. This sense of belonging and camaraderie can be incredibly motivating and reassuring, especially for new nurses who are entering a challenging and demanding field at an even more challenging and demanding time.
If you’re looking for support and encouragement along your journey, look no further; nursing organizations help you overcome obstacles and celebrate your achievements as part of a wider community.
Nursing organizations often offer pathways to leadership within the profession—including certifications as a Nurse Manager/Leader and a certification in Executive Nursing Practice. These opportunities allow you to develop crucial leadership skills and make an impact. AONL, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, is a great example of this.
Whether you’re serving on a committee, leading a project, or holding an executive position within the organization, you can refine your leadership abilities while contributing to the betterment of the nursing field.
Mentorship and Guidance
Having access to experienced mentors is like having a compass to help you navigate the complexities of your nursing career. Seasoned professionals within nursing organizations can offer invaluable guidance, share their wealth of knowledge, and provide insights that textbooks simply can’t. Their mentorship can be a source of encouragement and perspective during challenging times in your professional journey.
See ANA’s virtual mentorship program as a great example of what resources are available to you.
Building a robust professional network is a vital aspect of career development. Nursing organizations offer numerous networking opportunities that can open doors to new possibilities.
Whether you’re looking for a job, collaborating on research projects, or simply staying up to date on industry trends, your network can be a valuable asset throughout your nursing career. It’s also a way to connect with and receive support from like-minded professionals.
Personal and Professional Development
Nursing organizations offer excellent platforms for personal and professional growth. They provide access to a wide array of workshops, conferences, and learning opportunities. Take a look at the options AACN offers as an example.
These events are carefully designed to empower you with knowledge and skills that not only enhance your nursing expertise but also contribute to your personal development. Workshops delve into topics like advanced nursing techniques, leadership development, and even self-care strategies.
Attending conferences allows you to stay informed on the latest advancements in healthcare, fostering your ability to provide top-notch patient care. By participating in these activities, you’re not just gaining new skills but also building the confidence you need to excel in your nursing career.
Recognition and Credibility
Affiliation with respected nursing organizations carries significant weight in the healthcare industry. It adds a layer of credibility to your professional profile that can be invaluable. When you include your membership in these organizations on your resume, potential employers and colleagues are more likely to view you as a dedicated and informed nurse.
This added recognition can translate into increased opportunities for career advancement and leadership roles. Furthermore, your contributions to the field are more likely to be acknowledged and celebrated when you are associated with a reputable nursing organization. This recognition not only boosts your confidence but also paves the way for a more fulfilling and impactful nursing career.