Nurses in a meeting

Guide to Professional Nursing Associations

Healthcare is a dynamic and growing field. For nurses, professional organizations are highly valuable resources for the latest trends and best practices as well as key components of a successful career in an ever-changing industry. As Doris Greggs-McQuilkin, RN, BSN, MA outlines in her article, “Why join a professional nursing organization?,” the benefits of becoming a member of a nursing organization include opportunities for education, networking, certifications, career support, and much more.

There are hundreds of nursing organizations to choose from, and it can be overwhelming to decide which to join (especially if funds are tight). In addition to the core national and international societies, there are many specialty organizations as well as state and local chapters. Below is a list of a few of the main associations to consider, their current membership fees and benefits, and other helpful information.


American Nurses Association (ANA) 

The ANA comprises 3.1M members (including its state chapters and affiliates) and is the “only full-service professional organization” for nurses in the US. The American Academy of Nursing (AAN), American Nurses Foundation (ANF), and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) are all entities of ANA. Open only to RNs, the ANA’s benefits include online continuing education, career support, a variety of periodicals and e-newsletters, discounts on professional liability and auto insurance, and savings on ANCC credentials. Annual membership dues vary based on location and membership level (ANA and State, ANA Only, or E-Membership) and range from $45 to $300 or more.


American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA)

Founded in 1986, the APNA is the world’s leading professional organization dedicated to the specialization of psychiatric-mental health (PMH) nursing. The APNA is open to PMH RNs, clinical nurse specialists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, nurse scientists, and academicians and currently has more than 9K members. Upon joining, members are automatically assigned to a state chapter as well. Membership types (and dues) include Regular ($135), Affiliate ($135), International ($135), Retired ($75), and Student ($25). While the APNA is not a certifying agency, it does offer its members a discount on ANCC certification along with standard benefits such as continuing education (including the APNA Annual Conference and Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute courses), networking opportunities, and information access.


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American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

The AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization made up of more than 500K nurses focused on caring for acutely and critically ill patients. There are several AACN publications available to members as well as conferences including the annual National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition. The AACN also offers nurse specialty certifications including Critical Care RN – Acute/Critical Care Nursing for Adult, Pediatric, and Neonatal Patients (CCRN), Critical Care RN – Tele-ICU/Acute/Critical Care Nursing for Adult Patients (CCRN-E), Critical Care RN – Acute/Critical Care Knowledge (CCRN-K), Progressive Care Certified Nurse for Adult Patients (PCCN), Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML), Cardiac Medicine Sub-Specialty Nurse (CMC), Cardiac Surgery Sub-Specialty Nurse (CSC), and several advanced practice certifications. Membership dues vary from $52 for student or retired/disabled individuals to $59 for emeritus and $78 for active, international digital-only, and affiliate.


Oncology Nurses Society (ONS)

The ONS is dedicated to promoting and transforming oncology nursing. With 35K+ members, it is the biggest international group of oncology care professionals. Benefits include online and live education offerings, clinical practice information, subscriptions to Oncology Nursing Forum, Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, and ONS Connect, and career and networking resources. Additionally, members save on application fees for Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) credentials:  Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN), Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse (AOCN), Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON), Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse (CPON), Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN), Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP), and Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Specialist (AOCNS). Annual dues (including chapter fees) range from $60 to $130.


Emergency Nurses Association (ENA)

Originally formed as a teaching and networking organization, the ENA has expanded into a recognized authority and advocate for emergency nursing with 40K+ members in more than 35 countries. Members have access to free and discounted CE courses, special pricing on Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing exams, scholarships/grants, online and live networking events (including ENA Annual Conference), subscriptions to ENA Connection, Journal of Emergency Nursing, and ENA Newsline, and savings on a variety of partner services including insurance, travel, wireless, car rental, identity theft protection, and prescriptions. ENA also offers two 2-day courses, Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course (ENPC) and Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC). Annual dues start at $38 and go up to $105 with multiyear and lifetime options available.


National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA)

The first and only nursing specialty organization dedicated to gerontological care, the NGNA affords its members a subscription to The Geriatric Nursing Journal and SIGN Newsletter, Annual Convention and other CE opportunities at reduced rates, research and education programs, Fellows Program, and lowered fees for the following ANCC certification exams: Gerontological Nurse, Clinical Specialist in Gerontological Nursing, and Gerontological Nurse Practitioner. Membership categories include Student ($65), Senior ($95), Nursing Assistant ($95), Regular ($110), Associate ($110), and International ($130).


National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA)

The NSNA has more than 60K members throughout the US. Regular membership is open to students enrolled in programs ranging from diploma to Doctoral degrees and there is also a Sustaining Membership option for supportive corporations, agencies, schools, and individuals who do not qualify as nursing students. Benefits include career planning assistance, Imprint subscription, leadership development and community outreach opportunities, school credit via NSNA Leadership U, and discounts on study tools, insurance, apparel, travel, and more. Educational events include the Annual Convention and MidYear Conference. The NSNA’s Board of Directors is made up of 10 nursing students elected at each year’s Annual Convention, and The Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association (FNSNA) offers scholarships to qualified nursing students. Dues are $25 per year plus state chapter fees ($5–$15/year).


For a more thorough list of international, national, and state nursing organizations, visit’s directory page.

by: Natalie Winzer, iHire
March 09, 2015

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