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Advance Your Career by Joining Nursing Associations

Nurses can improve their job prospects and increase their salary potential by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Another way nurses can boost their careers, continue their education and pursue professional development is by joining nursing associations. Membership in nursing associations can be valuable for nurses who want to strengthen their competencies, exchange information and gain knowledge about patient care and progress in healthcare.

What Are Nursing Associations?

Nursing associations are organizations that promote the advancement of the nursing profession, uphold the standards of practice, help nurses expand their expertise, and advocate for their members, patients and the public.

The associations can be local, regional, national or international. A multitude of nursing associations exist for nurses who work in all types of healthcare settings and in various specialties, including:

  • Critical care
  • Medical-surgical
  • Neonatal
  • Occupational health
  • Pediatric

Why Do Nurses Join Nursing Associations?

Nurses may want to earn a certification, bolster their resume, make professional contacts or meet other nurses who have the same interests. In addition, they may want to stay up to date about their nursing specialty. Here are a few other motivations that may propel nurses to participate in nursing associations:

  • Develop leadership skills
  • Discuss professional nursing issues
  • Engage in policymaking, advocacy and lobbying for nursing and patient care
  • Find a mentor
  • Learn about innovations from peers and other professionals in healthcare
  • Stay involved in the evolution of the nursing practice

What Are the Benefits of Membership in a Nursing Association?

Many benefits come from membership in a nursing association, including access to career counseling, job openings and certification preparation. Nurses can also discover ways to grow professionally through classes, lectures, seminars, conferences and conventions. Additional advantages for nurses may include:

  • Discounts for continuing education courses, publications or certification
  • Newsletters with updates on nursing
  • Access to professional or peer-reviewed journals

What Are the 3 Oldest Nursing Associations?

The three oldest nursing associations remain an influential part of nursing today.

National League for Nursing (NLN): Established in 1893, the first nursing association was the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses, currently known as the National League for Nursing. The NLN is the "premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education." The organization provides professional development, networking opportunities, testing services, nursing research grants and other benefits to its members. The organization has 40,000 individual members and 1,200 institutional members.

American Nurses Association (ANA): The second nursing association was founded in 1896. It was called the Associated Alumnae of Trained Nurses of the United States and Canada, and is now the ANA. Its members represent all 50 states and U.S. territories. The mission of the ANA is to improve the quality of healthcare for everyone.

International Council of Nurses (ICN): The International Council of Nurses was formed in 1899. Now a global, non-governmental organization, the ICN is a leader in identifying and addressing key issues that influence the nursing profession and safeguard the health and well-being of patients, families and populations.

Presently, there are more than 100 national professional nursing associations in the United States. A complete list of the national, state and international nursing associations can be found at

Nurses can join an association whose members are in the same area of nursing, have achieved the equivalent level of education, share similar goals or a combination of the above. In addition, associations that offer nurses chances to take on leadership positions can help with their career advancement.

Learn more about the UAH online RN to BSN program.


Nursing2020: Why Join a Professional Nursing Organization? Join Nursing Associations to Advance Your Career and the Profession What Are the Benefits and Services of Joining a Nursing Organization?

DailyNurse: Why You Should Join a Nursing Association Nursing Organizations: The Role They Play in Professional Development

American Mobile: Top 5 Nursing Associations Every New Grad Should Join

Brilliant Nurse: Professional Nursing Organizations

National League for Nursing: Overview

ANA: About ANA

International Council of Nurses List of Nursing Organizations

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