Networking for nursing students
If you think networking in the medical community means brushing elbows with top surgeons and nurses at pricey cocktail parties, think again: modern technology and an influx of new professional organizations have made networking possible (and practical) for nursing students. While meeting experienced professionals in the field is a great way to forge new connections, the most important thing to note is there is more than one right way to network. Nursing students seeking to build their professional network can turn to professional organizations, social networks, and volunteer opportunities.
Professional nursing organizations
Professional organizations not only offer seminars and meetings where students can network and learn, but membership as well, membership that can add credibility to a resume and potentially open doors to future career opportunities.
National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). The NSNA is one organization that allows student nurses to participate in activities typically designed to help them prepare for licensing as well as foster relationships with other student nurses.
Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Students who excel in their classes may be invited to join the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Joining this organization can offer student nurses valuable training opportunities while also allowing them to show potential employers that they were among the top of their class academically.
American Nurses Association (ANA). For recently-graduated nurses, joining the American Nurses Association (ANA) could be a good choice.
Nurses may also choose from numerous specialty organizations based on their particular area of focus. Aspiring pediatric nurse practitioners, for example, may benefit from seeking membership with the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners while those looking to become school nurses could look to join the National Association of School Nurses.
Social networking for nursing students
Health care students entering the field in the last 10 or so years have had one big networking advantage over their peers from earlier generations: social media.
Facebook and Twitter have become two of the most dominant social networking platforms, and many hospitals and even nursing units have their own Facebook page or regularly tweet news about their activities. Professional nursing organizations may also have social network profiles that allow their members to stay in touch and get information about upcoming events and seminars.
LinkedIn allows prospective nurses to join existing health care networks and connect with experienced professionals in their respective fields. In fact, according to recent LinkedIn data, there are currently over one million nurses and doctors with profiles on LinkedIn. Some of the most popular LinkedIn groups for these professionals include the Medical Doctor (MD) Network, Innovations in Health and the RN (Registered Nurse) Network.
Smaller social networking sites also exist and may actually be better tailored to their particular needs. For example, sites like NurseTogether offer nurses news and information in the health care industry, job searches, forums where nurses can talk via message boards, and educational articles.
Nursing volunteer opportunities
While social networking and professional organizations are effective at disseminating information and bringing together nursing students with others in their field, they may not provide students with chances to spend extended times of period with their peers and established medical professionals.
Volunteering not only gives nursing students and grads the opportunity to give back to the community and to develop career-related skills, but an opportunity to interact with professionals in their field. Nursing students can find volunteer opportunities through their nursing programs at their college, local hospitals, and professional organizations. Social networks may also help students locate events they can attend in their local areas.
For nurses who are interested in volunteering on a national or international level, there are some organizations dedicated to matching nurses with global needs. The American Red Cross offers nurses the chance to work in a variety of places, including emergency or disaster relief areas, and Doctors Without Borders is an organization that offers both medical and non-medical volunteer positions across the globe, including areas where medical needs are critical.
Links to associations and sources:
American Nurses Association: http://www.nursingworld.org/
American Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org/
Doctors Without Borders, http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
Innovations in Health Group, LinkedIn, http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Innovations-In-Health-2308956?gid=2308956
"LinkedIn Surpasses One Million Doctors and Nurses in the U.S.," Simon Zhang, LinkedIn, April 9, 2013, http://talent.linkedin.com/blog/index.php/2013/04/1m_docs-and-nurses-on-linkedin
Medical Doctor (MD) Network, LinkedIn, http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1170587
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners: http://www.napnap.org/index.aspx
National Association of School Nurses: http://www.nasn.org/
National Student Nurses Association, http://www.nsna.org/
RN (Registered Nurse) Network, LinkedIn, http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=859457
Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing: http://www.nursingsociety.org/