Nurse organizations, unfair advantage?


I am a class officer, a member of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA), the nursing fraternity Alpha Tau Delta (ATD), the honors society of Phi Kappa Phi, and I try to participate in activities held by our nursing school’s organization, the Nightingale Society. I am also involved in organizations outside of nursing, helping out in the community and on a global level with the help our my church’s outreach organization, In His Shoes. Some of the organizations are simply a membership, but others, like ATD, require participation in one meeting, one event, and one fundraiser per quarter. And with graduation on the horizon, my officers and I are up to our eyeballs in plans for our pinning ceremony. My non-nursing extracurriculars keep me on my toes, but are also ways for me to de-stress and help out in the community.

It’s a lot of work, but I love doing it. I love being a part of nursing not just because I am a student, but in the philanthropic parts of it too. I enjoy helping my fellow classmates, and I don’t mind taking time out of my schedule when I can to do so.  We were told from the beginning of the nursing program that participating in these organizations or in volunteer work outside of school is something that employers look at now. These are the types of things that help you stand out from the rest of the applications in this tough job market. An added bonus for doing something I love doing.

I work well under pressure, so when I have a lot going, I have a rigid schedule that keeps me working hard and organized. But it is a lot to manage. While I am happy about what I do, and glad to know it might be extra padding on my resume, I can’t help but think that it’s not really a fair advantage in the job market. What if you can’t afford to join? Or you’ve got kids and a full time job outside of school and can’t take the time out to attend a meeting and raise money for another group? It’s understandable to me that there are those that love nursing, but can’t commit to all the extra work that comes along with each group. Should employers really be looking at your extracurricular activities when they’re looking for a new nurse? I think it’s just as admirable to say that while maintaining your GPA in nursing school, you were also able to balance your home life, raise your kids, take them to school, keep them safe and healthy and have a life. That’s no easy task either! It’s just not one that gets a spot on a resume.

Is it fair? I do put a lot of work into what I do, but everyone puts a lot of work into their lives. Nursing school is no easy task on its own, let alone with everything else. What do you think? Is being a part of a nursing organization an important part of our careers? Should it be an added bonus on your resume, or just something you do on your own time? Or should parents get to add that they’ve successfully raised a family while in nursing school to their resume as well?

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.

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4 Responses to Nurse organizations, unfair advantage?

  1. Michele

    I am a member and officer of the NSNA as well as a mom of two children, wife of one. I strongly believe that being a parent gives you skills to prepare for a job. Parents have to multitask on a level that someone who is not a parent won’t understand and that skill should be considered just as much as being an officer of your nursing school organization.

  2. Belasko RN

    Maybe I have missed something since being a new grad, but needing to be in a nursing organization so you can get a job? Really? We’re told we are in a nursing shortage, and that there are jobs out there for people that are willing to accept them. I will agree that in some cases relocation might be needed, but I feel that is the exception. True, you may not get the cool E.R. job or the intense ICU position as a new grad, but to get onto the medsurg floors you shouldn’t have to exhaust yourself with more nursing stuff outside of school and work.

  3. Abby

    “What if you can’t afford to join? ”
    I’m not sure about all organizations, but National Society for Collegiate Scholars waived the $90 membership fee when I told them I couldn’t afford it. These organizations might not say it on any forms or invitations, but if you call and explain your situation, many have some sort of fund set up for just this purpose

  4. Nurse Rene RN

    I have never known an employer who put much ‘stock’ into how many organizations a nurse happens to belong to unless, of course, you happen to sit on the State Board! What I have seen is more importance attached to how ‘grounded’ you are and how likely you are to stay in one particular job. For example: were you raised nearby, do you have a family and home, how flexible are your days/hours, what are your developmental goals, etc.
    Most larger companies view volunteer work as something that you do on your OWN time unless it is company-sponsored and your participation makes THEM look good.
    I would warn anyone against becoming TOO immersed in nursing at the risk of missing out on opportunities for a personal life, raising your own kids and becoming ‘burned out’ early in the game. You are a nurse, of course, but all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl!