Career coach: 6 ways nurses can maximize professional association membership

Nurses who want to climb the career ladder should seek memberships at professional organizations, as they can be a valuable resource, according to Kim Dority, a career coach at American Sentinel University.

American Sentinel University is an accredited healthcare-focused online university.

Ms. Dority noted professional organizations are especially important for student nurses. "But even if you're no longer a student, associations can help you reach all sorts of goals essential to growing and advancing your career," she wrote in a blog post for American Sentinel University.

In the post, Ms. Dority shared the following six ways nurses can maximize their membership in a professional organization.

1. Networking. "This is an easy and often highly enjoyable way to meet a great number of the local professionals in your field," she wrote.

2. Brand- or reputation-building. Taking on a leadership or committee role in a local chapter can bring two benefits, according to Ms. Dority: Demonstrate to potential hiring managers that you see yourself as a professional, and impress fellow members who may then serve as a reference to land a new job.

3. Career insights. Most professional organizations will provide possible career paths, salary trends, hiring statistics and other information. "Also, by participating in your local chapter, you'll have an opportunity to experience what it would be like to work with your fellow members," Ms. Dority wrote. "Do people seem to enjoy their careers? Are there some people you'd especially like to work with (or not)?"

4. Job postings. These are common among professional associations, and "checking out the available jobs will give you a good sense of what skills are in demand and who's hiring for what positions," Ms. Dority wrote.

5. Professional development. Scholarships, webinars, workshops and online discussions are common offerings of many professional organizations that can be beneficial to nurses young and seasoned.

6. Conferences. For student nurses, "attending association conferences … can help you see your future career 'in action,'" Ms. Dority wrote. For nurses already out of school, conferences are still valuable. "Line up a few appointments with online friends to finally meet face-to-face, attend presentations of interest and then follow up with the speakers, and of course always have your business cards with you," she wrote.

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