Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are advanced healthcare practitioners with similar responsibilities, such as diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medications. However, their training and paths toward certification differ in significant ways. This blog post unpacks the key differences between NPs and PAs to help you determine which career path best aligns with your goals. What Is a Nurse Practitioner? A nurse practitioner (NP) is a licensed clinician who provides comprehensive healthcare to patients of all ages. An NP can work in virtually any healthcare setting, diagnosing patient conditions and prescribing medications. As of October 2022, nurse practitioners have full practice authority in 27 states, meaning that they can practice Read more
Student nursing associations offer an invaluable community of professional support both before and after graduation. Bridging the gap between your nursing education and professional career helps provide stability for your future. Nursing student organizations provide a home for nurses of all specialties, advocating for workplace safety, offering resources for career development, and connecting professionals across the globe.
Though this is not required for practice, many aspiring nurses join student nursing associations and other professional nurse organizations as a way to stay informed about today’s most pressing nursing needs. Many organizations host conferences and offer additional mentorship and training, as well as scholarships and grant opportunities. Nurses of color and specialty nurses can also connect with like-minded nurses within niche associations formed specifically to create community and support for their experience.
Below are some valuable tips that you should consider when joining a nursing organization, along with a list of popular communities to explore.
Why Should You Join a Nursing Association?
What does a student nursing association do for its members? On a basic level, a nursing student organization provides a home for nurses throughout their education—from their early interest in nursing to postgraduate study. Students begin to build their professional communities and even online portfolios before launching their careers.
For example, nursing students can subscribe to the American Nurses Association — one of the largest organizations in the country — before licensure, for free. Membership provides a wealth of in-person and online resources for early-career nursing information. They also keep students abreast of nursing advocacy efforts and ways to reach out to their peers in the nursing profession.
Student nursing associations also offer annual competitions for scholarships as well as guidance for research grant applications. They help students transition into the professional world with mentorship opportunities and professional advice.
Student Nursing Associations
Organizations for nursing students run the gamut from large, nationwide communities to localized groups and chapters. While some primarily support RN or LPN nurses, many offer introductory programs for student nurses as well. Enthusiastic national nurses of the future can even join specific nursing student organizations as early as high school. Among the list of national, state and international students nursing associations, major organizations include:
Health Occupations Students Association (HOSA)
Annual membership fee: $30
Federally recognized, HOSA is one of the earliest organizations aspiring nurses can join. The group aims to enhance the understanding and education of quality healthcare throughout the country. Students can join as early as high school to participate in leadership conferences, national scholarship competitions and receive alumni support into their careers. HOSA and its curriculum aim to develop the whole student — not just their technical training — to encourage quality healthcare and nursing wellbeing.
National Student Nurses’ Association
Annual membership fee: *dependent on your state.
NSNA offers support to over 60,000 nursing students across the country. Join a local or school-specific chapter to create community and attend one of their two annual meetings to keep up to date on nursing trends. Undergraduate nursing students also have the opportunity to apply for scholarships to complete their degree. NSNA offers valuable discounts, professional literature and career-planning resources.
American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Annual membership fee: $55 for students
If you’re currently enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate NP program, AANP welcomes students to join their nationally recognized organization. With a team of member-elected officials, the organization supports and advocates for the wellness of NPs across the country. This nurse practitioner association guides future and present NPs to continuously develop their training, education and leadership skills with ample business and research resources.
American Nurses Association
Annual membership fee: *National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) members are eligible to sign-up as ANA Student Subscribers for free. If you’re not a member of NSNA, you can still sign up for free by agreeing to receive membership information from NSNA.
The ANA provides a community and platform for pre-licensed nursing students to collaborate with today’s professionals. If you’re already a member of NSNA, you can receive a free subscription to ANA materials. Student members also receive relevant materials on legislation and advocacy as well as a professional starters kit.
National League for Nursing
Annual membership fee: $80 for students
This unique national organization specifically supports all those interested in bettering the education of nurses throughout the country. Faculty, nurses, interested students and administrators are all welcome to benefit from a range of meetings, research resources and their Certified Nursing Educator exams. The NLN hosts leadership conferences, writing retreats and a long list of annual events to support the growth of nursing education.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing
Annual membership fee: $52 for students
With over 825 nursing school members, the AACN aims to uphold excellence in nursing education in colleges throughout the country. Graduate and Doctoral students may join the Graduate Nursing Student Academy while attending one of these member schools to receive a wealth of benefits during their training. These benefits include access to member-only scholarships, networking opportunities and mentorship connections.
Society of Pediatric Nurses
Annual membership fee: $70 for students
SPN exists to advance the specialty of pediatric nursing through excellence in education, research, and practice. SPN offers conferences, education, practice guidelines, and advocacy to its valued community of diverse members.
Nursing Specialty Associations
Specialty student nursing associations bring together smaller groups within the medical field to provide community, support and a cohesive voice for advocacy. These programs offer more targeted training and research resources as well as a place to find like-minded nurses navigating similar daily challenges in their careers. Nursing students can find a home within these programs to build a foundation of support during their training.
Emergency Nurses Association
Annual membership fee: $25 for students
The ENA or the Emergency Nurses Association provides additional training resources, networking and advocacy opportunities to all those working and interested in emergency nursing. The community offers a platform to connect with other nurses that understand the unique challenges of emergency care. To become an emergency nurse, you need to have your BSN.
Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses
Annual membership fee: $70 for students
The AMSN is a vibrant community that provides resources and a recognized certification program for medical-surgical nurses. Membership is open to anyone interested in medical-surgical nursing. Members include the RN, LPN, LVN, clinical nurse specialist, registered nurse practitioner, educator, researcher, administrator, and student. They are leaders who advocate for patients, mentor each other, and advance nursing practice, all to inspire excellence.
American Association of Critical Care Nurses
Annual membership fee: $78
The discounted student membership to the AACN offers students a door to the largest national organization for critical care nurses. Members receive access to medical journals, professional nursing toolkits and online learning opportunities. Their community advocates, guides and supports the daily needs of critical care nurses across the US.
Additional Professional and Student Nursing Organizations You Can Join
Nursing associations also build a support system for nursing students with unique backgrounds and interests. Specifications may pertain to your gender, cultural background, region of the country or advocacy focus. Examples include:
National Black Nurses Association
Annual membership fee: $50 for students
With 115 chapters across the US, the NBNA offers a professional nursing organization for African American registered nurses. Annual conferences, career fairs, scholarships and networking opportunities guide over 200,000+ members. Students may apply by forwarding their enrollment status directly to their local chapter.
Transcultural Nursing Society
Annual membership fee: $75 for students
By joining the Transcultural Nursing Society, members can participate in cross-cultural nursing practices and global health issues. Students and professionals receive six annual issues of the Journal of Transcultural Nursing, online access to their curriculum materials, discounted conference prices and an option for certification. They also offer a vast community for support and networking.
Building an active and passionate community is a key phase when transitioning from school to the professional nursing world. As a student, joining these communities early on can give you access to working professionals who can answer questions you might have about the field.
The Master’s, Doctoral and Post-Graduate Nursing Certificate programs at the University of St. Augustine Health Sciences celebrates the vast specialties of nursing professionals. Whether pursuing a career within the nursing community or expanding your knowledge with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), USAHS offers an immersive and flexible course of study for the modern nursing student.