In the field of nursing, professional associations and organizations are crucial for the generation of energy, proactive work and smooth flow of ideas that are needed in order to maintain a healthy and effective profession that essentially advocates for the needs of not only its clients but also those of the nurses. In addition, these associations are important in campaigning for the trust of the society in the nursing profession (Matthews, 2012). In recent years, the number of professional nursing associations and organizations has been on the rise and membership to these associations has increased. This is attributable to the fact that man practicing and student nurses have realized the importance of such associations and are joining these associations in large). In addition, there have been intensified campaigns within the nursing fraternity to encourage nurses to join professional nursing organizations to have a sort of collective representation when it comes to various nursing issues (Matthews, 2012). The aim of this essay is to explore one professional nursing institution that I personally hope to be a member in the future. The essay will look at the aims and the relevance of the organization as well as the benefits that can be accrued from being a member of this organization. The particular organization that will be discussed is the National Black Nurses Association.
The National Black Nurses Association is a nursing organization that was founded in the year 1971 (NBNA.org, 2014). The birthplace of the organization was Cleveland in Ohio. The proposal to form the organization was made by one Dr. Lauranne Sams, a Professor of Nursing at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. The organization was formed as a form of response to growing concerns about increasing inequities in health care for blacks and the relative lack of a representative voice for African American nurses on issues affecting them. According to Kelly (2002), Inequities in such things as gender, age and ethnicity have been recognized as great influences on health, outcomes (p.42). Kelly also state that whites have greater health care access and therefore high utilization rates of healthcare than their black counterparts (p.41). To tackle the healthcare problem, Kelly recommends the development of evidence based guidelines by medical and nursing professional association as one of the ways to tackle inequality in health care to ensure equal aces to healthcare by all (p.32). The goal of the organization was to generally improve black people’s health status in the United States. The other major goals of the organization were to open leadership positions and nursing education to African Americans in the United States (NBNA.org, 2014).
According to the National Black Nurses Association website, the mission of the association is to avail a forum for collective and harmonized action by African American nurses to examine, define and campaign for African Americans’ healthcare needs. In addition, the organization aims to implement strategies that enable access to standard healthcare enjoyed by the larger society or even one that is of a larger standard. NBNA is fully committed to making improvements in the quality of life of African Americans as well as other seemingly forgotten minority groups through several strategies that include
- Construction of consumer knowledge as well as understanding of health care related issues
- Mentoring and educating registered nurses, practical/vocational nurse, retired nurses, nursing students amongst others
- Facilitation of career advancement and professional development of nurses in relation to emerging health systems
- Promotion of nurses’ economic development via entrepreneurial amongst other business related initiative
NBNA has one of the most open membership policy. As its name suggests, it is an organization that was mainly formed to focus on the issue facing African Americans and consequently, membership is limited to African American. There are various categories of people who are members of this association but the major ones include the ones mentioned above and these are registered nurses, practical/vocational nurse, retired nurses and finally nursing students.
Becoming a member of this organization is a relatively easy process for a nursing student or a new nurse. Once a potential applicant logs in to the site, he or she can apply to be a member of this organization by filling an application form available at the site. This form must be fully filled before one can become a full member of the organization. Amongst others, one of the things that the applicant has to indicate is the membership option. The choices here are many and varied and include corporate roundtable, lifetime member, retired member, student, advertiser amongst others. The applicant also has to indicate the length of membership to the organization that he hopes to have. The type of membership chosen also determines the cost of registration to the organization. For instance, being a member for 12 months warrants a cost of $5000.
Very many benefits can be accrued from being a member of this organization as revealed by the National Black Nurses Association website. First, being a member of this organization means that one becomes integrated into a community of 150, 000 registered members who have the common agenda of developing the nursing profession for better delivery of health care services to the African American community and general improvement of overall health status of this community. By a being a member of this effective organization, one becomes part of an organization that provides leadership aimed at advancing the practice of nursing and the improvement of health care to all Americans and finally the shaping of health policy meant to improve access to medical care services (NBNA.org, 2014).
There is also a wide range of personal benefits that one stands to gain by being a member of this organization. First, once is given an automatic subscription to the organization’s quarterly newsletter titled the “NBNA News”. This newsletter is very informative and provides a wide range of news and information related to the nursing profession to the reader. Members of the organization can therefore keep up with emerging trends and stories in the health care and nursing world as well as the achievements of NBNA in the nursing sector. This is not the only journal that members of NBNA receive once registered into the organization. Members also receive an automatic subscription to the Journal of the National Black Nurses Association, another informative piece of writing published bi-annually and that provides a wide range of information related to the nursing profession (NBNA.org, 2014).
Apart from the journals, members of NBNA constantly receive position papers covering critical issues that influence African American health care consumers. NBNA also collaborates with several national and federal organizations that can assist members with various issues that are related health care. In addition, the organization acts as a common voice for all African American nurses through which their concerns and issues can be collectively voiced and addressed by the federal government. The organization provides a network of African American nurses from all corners of the American nation, the Caribbean and even West Africa and through this network; members can share ideas on how to improve the health sector in general (NBNA.org, 2014).
Members of NBNA also receive direct emails of health acre and nursing related issue automatically. In addition, members of the organization can easily access online store whey they can peruse or buy nursing related merchandise. NBNA also provides an online career center for its members where they generally receive career advancement and professional development tips. Members are also granted recognition certificates by the organization whenever they do exemplary things that improve the delivery and access of health care to African Americans and other minority groups and indeed the American public in general.
Of all these benefits, the one that appeals to me most is the one on mentoring. According to research, it has been shown that many nursing students are clueless about the real work environment and what they known about the nursing profession is what has been taught to them in class. These students are fed with many theoretical aspects, which they have no clue how to apply. The students have no one to guide or mentor him or her in regards to both formal and informal rules of the practical nursing environment (Matthews, 2012). This is where NBNA comes in. By being a member of this organization, I will be given mentors who will equip me with crucial skills to utilize once I get into the real work environment of nursing. In addition, the mentors will me the do’s and don’ts of this profession to ensure that I make a smooth transition from being a nursing student to being an actual nurse. Therefore, this is the benefit of NBNA membership that mostly appeals to me.
In conclusion, it is fair to state that NBNA is one of the most effective professional nursing organization or association. The association is clearly concerned with the improvement of health care in the country especially to the African Americans that have for the larger part seemed to lag behind when it comes to health care matters. It can only be hoped that in the future, the association will continue making giant strides towards achieving a high standard of national health care to all African Americans and indeed all Americans. That is why every person who meets the qualifications of membership and who believes in the NBNA’s goals and objectives should become a member.
Kelly, P. (2002). Nursing leadership & management (5th ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.
Matthews, J., (January 31, 2012) "Role of Professional Organizations in Advocating for the Nursing Profession" OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 17, No. 1, Manuscript 3.
NBNA.org. (2014). Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://www.nbna.org/