Sometimes, squeezing one more thing onto your lengthy to-do list just seems impossible. Between work and family, the often little precious time you have left isn’t really something you want to give up, even if it might help your career. In fact, a nice nap looks better than just about anything.
But if you have just a little bit of time, joining a national or regional professional association, like the National Association of Hispanic Nurses or the New England Regional Black Nurses Association, is a great way to boost both your career and your morale. If you get involved on a higher level, as a board member or committee chair, for example, you have a chance to make a real change for nurses possibly forming and enacting policies that can make a difference in nurses’ lives.
On the surface, professional organizations are a great place to find nursing resources and career information. But if you look at all the benefits a membership offers, you will find a whole range of networking activities, conferences, meetings, educational opportunities, and even scholarships. National organizations host conferences (members often get discounts to these) with agendas full of presentations relevant to nurses in all areas.
To be a successful member, you really have to be an active member. Sure, it looks good to say you belong to a professional organization on paper, but to reap the benefits you really have to get involved. Go to a local meeting and meet other nurses of all levels and of all interests. While you take advantage of the natural networking that a meeting offers, you also uncover the issues near and dear to your local community. What are your peers supporting? What worries them? What is happening in your own nursing community? How does this all impact nursing on a national level?
And you will always learn something. Meetings often have an educational component where presenters address specific points of interest for nurses, whether it is career-related or clinical. Gathering with other local minority nurses not only aligns you with your professional community, but also the wider community where members try to bring about healthy change.
And just being around other committed nurses who share your interests is a morale boost, reminding you of why you got into the profession in the first place. These organizations are great places to cultivate a mentoring relationship if you feel stuck in your career and are not sure how to progress.
In a profession where minorities are underrepresented, the personal and professional bonds offered in an organization geared specifically to minority nurses are invaluable.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
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