It is never too early to become involved in a professional organization, according to Mayra Toney, DNP, RN, a clinical assistant professor at the Duquesne University School of Nursing.
“Whether it is a specialty practice you may be interested in, such as the Oncology Nursing Society, or a cultural alignment, such as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, it is an excellent way for students and practicing nurses to learn and collaborate with peers within the nursing community.”
In this Q&A, Dr. Toney shares how she’s benefited from being a member of professional nursing organizations and offers tips for how nursing students can get involved with one relevant to their interests.
Which professional organizations are you a member of?
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses
- National League for Nursing
- Oncology Nursing Society
- Pennsylvania League for Nursing Area VI
- Sigma Theta Tau International
What was the first organization you joined and why?
It was the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).
During my junior year of nursing school, I became drawn to the field of oncology nursing. My first position was surgical oncology, in particular the specialized field of gynecology oncology. It proved to be very rewarding and challenging. I admired how brave and tenacious these women were.
To further immerse myself and augment cancer-specific care, I joined the ONS. Attending ONS sponsored conferences always left me with a renewed expertise and love for the field of oncology nursing.
When should students get involved with professional nursing organizations?
Joining an organization as a student helps you to initiate professional contacts and development. I would encourage students to join an organization once they have established an interest in a specific field, or perhaps have been invited to join. Many organizations have specific fees and resources for student nurses. For example, the ONS has a link dedicated for student nurses.
What are the benefits of being a member of a professional nursing organization?
There are many benefits for both students and practicing nurses such as professional growth, networking opportunities and access to expert resources throughout your career.
For nursing students, organizations often provide scholarships. Membership allows for lower rates when registering to attend a conference and when seeking certification. Membership also provides access to peer reviewed nursing journals and webinars, as well as opportunities to participate in presentations, such as podium or poster presentations. It helps keep you current with the latest development in your chosen field.
Do you have any tips for choosing which organization(s) to join?
If you have a particular interest, research the organization, and determine what the national and local chapters have to offer. Seek advice from your professors. Ask how long have they been members of an organization and why.
Do you serve in any leadership roles within the organizations?
I am a board member of the Sigma Theta Tau Epsilon Chapter and hold the position of secretary.
I am also a member of the newly formed Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN). I am the chapter’s treasurer.
Both organizations help provide me with professional growth as well as community involvement and responsibility. Both organizations are also affiliated with Duquesne University. Campus organizations help you to engage and connect with other student nurses, as well as other campus organizations. This is also a good way to develop communication, leadership and networking skills.