Nurse organizations, unfair advantage?

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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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