5 Professional Nursing Organizations That Lead the Industry

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After earning a nursing license, gaining valuable nursing experience, and earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree, registered nurses (RNs) may be wondering how else they can advance their careers. These RNs are the perfect candidates for membership in a professional nursing organization. Luckily, there is no shortage of organizations that prioritize lifelong learning, networking opportunities, and the improvement of health care and the field of nursing.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) serves nurses looking for an organization that offers a broad reach, particularly one that supports nurses active in various specialties. Membership in the ANA includes everything from board certification discounts to the ability to earn contact hours online.

In addition to ANA membership, nurses who practice in specific health care fields realize many benefits from joining a specialized professional nursing organization. The groups provide RNs with a community of like-minded professionals, offer access to research, and allow specialty nurses to further their education.

The following are among the leading professional nursing organizations:

1.National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)

The NSNA is intended for nursing students on the path to becoming licensed registered nurses. The organization is truly student-centered: Its board of directors is composed of nine nursing students selected at each year’s annual convention. The NSNA focuses on mentoring and developing nursing students by hosting career development workshops and test review sessions, among other services in support of students.

The group has a large membership base of more than 60,000. In addition to bringing nursing students together and promoting nursing ethics and accountability, the NSNA advocates for “high-quality, evidence-based, affordable, and accessible health care,” according to the group’s website.

2.American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

The AANP believes that nurse practitioners (NPs) play a vital role in ensuring the future of quality health care. The association offers resources for active nurse practitioners and students pursuing a degree. Its goal is to enable current NPs and students to learn, grow, and become leaders in the field of health care. Members enjoy perks such as discounts on nursing tools, free educational courses, and access to research networks. AANP publishes two journals: Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and Journal for Nurse Practitioners. The group is politically active and has its own political action committee that advocates for health care legislation.

The AANP is the largest organization for nurse practitioners in the U.S., with more than 92,000 members. There are multiple levels of membership to choose from, with lower membership dues for student members and post-master’s student members.

3.American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA)

The APNA is an organization for nurses working in mental health care. The group’s vision is to be a source of psychiatric nursing resources, classes, and empowerment. To provide its members with the latest news in the psychiatric field, the APNA hosts conferences and publishes the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. The organization is also a staunch advocate for mental health patients.

Any registered psychiatric nurse is welcome to join the APNA community of more than 11,000 nurses and to share the members’ passion for promoting mental health. About 40 percent of the group’s members are psychiatric registered nurses, and 60 percent are psychiatric advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

4.National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP)

NAPNAP is dedicated to serving pediatric nurse practitioners by sponsoring networking opportunities and working with organizations conducting research and promoting education in pediatrics. The organization distributes publications for families that keep parents updated on the newest developments in children’s health care. NAPNAP is the only organization in the U.S. that is centered solely around pediatric nurse practitioners.

NAPNAP members can participate in one of 50 local chapters or join the group’s online chapter. In addition, the association sponsors special interest groups that focus on specific issues in pediatrics. The organization has been advocating for pediatric care since 1973 and now has more than 9,000 members.

5.Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA)

GAPNA’s 3,700-plus members are advocates for improving heath care for the elderly. The group’s goals are to connect individuals active in the gerontological nursing community and to educate the public about health issues related to aging. GAPNA provides continuing education and conferences to promote its objective of improving the quality of health care the elderly receive. The association hosts an annual conference and publishes its official journal, Geriatric Nursing.

GAPNA is a small but mighty community that serves as a central resource and support forum for its advanced practice nurse members.

In addition to these national associations, state-based nursing organizations are tailored to the nursing requirements of each state. Note that some national associations also have state chapters that are distinct from the state-specific professional nursing organizations. Nurses interested in developing their skills in accordance with their state’s requirements may find membership in a state-specific organization a good choice for their professional development and continuing education needs.

Professional nursing organizations lead the health care industry and help their members advance in their chosen health care field. The associations support their members by providing valuable mentorships, opportunities for leadership, and networking events. They advocate for improvements in health care and aid the public in understanding important developments in medicine. Many nursing organizations target specific health care goals, which permit nurses of every background to dig deep into their specializations so they can become the best nurses possible.

Nurses at every stage of their careers can look to these organizations to help them reach the pinnacles of the profession. Engaging with one or more professional nursing organizations is the ideal way for nurses to realize all of their career goals — and to help promote the future of the nursing field.

Learn More

The online Master of Science in Nursing program at Regis College prepares graduates for advanced and specialized nursing roles in settings such as family practices, pediatric units, adult-geriatric facilities, women’s health centers, and mental health institutions. Learn about how this program can lead to career success today.

Recommended Readings:

Growing as a Nurse: Pursuing Further Knowledge and Certification

How to Specialize in Nursing

What Is a Pediatric Nurse?



American Association of Nurse Practitioners: About NPs and AANP

American Association of Nurse Practitioners: Membership

American Nurses Foundation

American Psychiatric Nurses Association

Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association: About GAPNA

Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association: Strategic Plan

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

National Student Nurses’ Association