How Professional Nursing Associations Empower Nurses and Advance Health Care

professional nursing associations
professional nursing associations

If you’re a nurse or a nursing student, you have dedicated yourself to providing essential care to patients who depend on your expertise and empathy. While nursing can be both challenging and rewarding, you can turn to many professional nursing organizations for support.

These organizations offer individual support through continuing education and scholarships and they also work on a larger scale to promote policies that benefit nurses and their patients. However, with over 150 nursing organizations to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That's why we've put together a list of nursing associations for nursing students so that you can find the resources and support you need to advance your career.

Why are professional nursing associations important?

Professional nursing associations in the United States play a crucial role in advocating for the nursing profession and providing support to nurses. These associations offer a variety of benefits to their members, including access to continuing education, networking opportunities, job resources and legislative representation. In addition, by joining a nursing association, nurses can stay informed about industry trends and best practices while contributing to the growth and development of the profession.

What are the top professional nursing associations?

With over 150 nursing associations, it’s essential to identify the right organizations to match your educational and professional goals. We have outlined the top nursing associations overall, the best options for students, the top organizations in Kansas in Missouri and renowned associations for advanced practice specialties. 

Here are some of the top nursing associations in the United States:

1. American Nurses Association (ANA)

The American Nurses Association (ANA) represents more than four million registered nurses in the United States. It is dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of nurses, advancing the nursing profession and improving the quality of patient care. It is one of the best-known organizations for nurses in the United States. 

2. National League for Nursing (NLN)

The National League for Nursing (NLN) focuses on advancing excellence in nursing education. It provides resources, networking opportunities, advocacy for nurse educators and setting standards for nursing education programs. In addition, the NLN aims to promote quality and integrity in nursing education and to prepare nurses to meet the changing health care needs of society. The NLN hosts events, including “Classrooms Without Borders,” an event that aims to close the gap between the classroom and clinical practice. 

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

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) promotes excellence and innovation in critical care nursing. AACN provides educational resources, professional development opportunities and networking opportunities for critical care nurses. The organization also advocates policies and practices that support high-quality patient care in acute care settings. AACN's mission is to empower nurses to provide exceptional care for critically ill patients.

4. National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP)

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) is a professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. NAPNAP members are advanced practice registered nurses with specialized training in pediatric care. The organization provides resources and support for its members, advocates for policies that improve children's health and works to raise public awareness about the importance of pediatric health care.

5. Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN)

The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) focuses on promoting excellence in medical-surgical nursing practice. AMSN offers a variety of educational resources, networking opportunities and certification programs for nurses who work in medical-surgical settings. In addition, the organization advocates for advancing medical-surgical nursing through research, education and collaboration with other health care organizations. AMSN is committed to providing its members with the tools and support they need to deliver high-quality patient care and advance their careers in medical-surgical nursing.

6. Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)

The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) represents emergency nurses and focuses on improving patient care in emergency departments. ENA provides education, networking opportunities and resources to its members to help them enhance their clinical skills and knowledge. Additionally, ENA advocates for emergency nurses and works to advance the profession by promoting research, developing best practices and collaborating with other health care organizations.

7. American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is a large organization representing over 110,000 nurse practitioners in the United States. The AANP works to promote high-quality health care for patients by advocating for the role of nurse practitioners in health care policy and practice. Additionally, they provide continuing education and resources for their members to support their professional development and improve patient outcomes.

8. Oncology Nursing Society (ONS)

The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) helps advance oncology nursing through education, research and advocacy. Its members are nurses and other health care professionals committed to providing the highest quality care to individuals affected by cancer. ONS offers a variety of resources and opportunities for nurses to expand their knowledge and skills in cancer care, including conferences, publications and certification programs. The Society also advocates for policies and practices that improve the lives of cancer patients and their families.

9. American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA)

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) represents psychiatric nurses across the United States. APNA provides a platform for psychiatric nurses to network, collaborate and receive continuing education in the field of mental health nursing. The association also advocates for the advancement of mental health care and the promotion of mental health awareness.

10. Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)

The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is devoted to improving the health of women and newborns. AWHONN provides education, support and advocacy for nurses specializing in women's health, obstetrics and neonatal care. Their mission is to promote the highest standards of nursing practice and patient care in these areas through research, education and collaboration with other health care professionals. In addition, AWHONN ensures that women and newborns receive the best possible care and support during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other nursing associations in the United States.

Best nursing associations for students

There are a variety of nursing associations designed to support aspiring nurses in completing their education. Some of the best associations for nursing students in the United States include the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA), the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National League for Nursing (NLN). These organizations provide resources, networking opportunities and advocacy for nursing students and professionals alike.

Nursing associations in Kansas and Missouri

It’s an exciting time for aspiring nurses in Kansas. The state of Kansas recently granted licensed nurse practitioners the right to engage with full practice authority, allowing NPs to practice independently under the scope set by the Kansas Board of Nursing. Nursing students in Kansas and Missouri may seek local organizations in their area to help support their development and career journey. Some of the nursing associations in Kansas and Missouri that are highly regarded include the Kansas State Nurses Association, the Missouri Nurses Association, the Kansas Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the Missouri Nurses Association District. 

Best advanced practice specialties nursing associations

The field of nursing includes advanced practice specialties, including those working as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives and certified registered nurse anesthetists. These specialties require extra education and training beyond a registered nurse's primary education. Fortunately, nursing associations cater to these specialties to guide those pursuing advanced practice. Some of the top organizations include the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS), the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and the American Nurses Association (ANA). 

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