1. Yes, I have been a member of ANA and my state/local affiliation since I graduated from nursing school in 1989. I do a monthly check draft, that is now less than a tank of gas per month.
2. I think that my involvement in the local and state student nurse association fostered my interest in the organization, and made me realize the importance of being a member. I have met many nurses who live in different parts of the country as a result of being a member. I've also been able to keep up with political agendas nationwide regarding healthcare. I'm not thrilled that they endorse a Presidential candidate, as it has not always been who I would vote for, but I realize the endorsement came as a result of the democratic process within the ANA. I've seen leadership potential being developed from new nurses in local and state chapters, as a result of membership. Recently, a bedside nurse Cindy Balkstra, was elected as President of the Georgia Nurses Association. That showed me that it is not the elitist organization that others stereotypically categorize it as, and that leadership from staff nurses is considered important. Furthermore, Cindy was living in Savannah at the time, and was running against a very well known nurse from the Atlanta area, who I think was a nurse educator. Through proper use of campaigning and the political process, and strong grassroots efforts, she won the election. There are alot of membership benefits, both statewide and nationally that ANA members receive. The one that I like the best is the huge discount on renewing my ANCC certification.
3. I'd encourage a new grad to join the ANA, and get active in local and state activities, and travel to the national conventions. Get out there, mix and mingle and meet others. Realize that your profession exists beyond the bedside and that your involvement makes a difference. Read the literature that is sent from the organization, volunteer to serve on committees and help the organization in the best way that your talents can offer. I call it servant leadership to the profession. The contacts that you make today could be helpful to you in the future. I met several advanced practice nurses in local meetings, and was able to use their expertise to help me get clinicals set up for the MSN program. Sure, I don't always agree with everything that ANA endorses, but if I had to agree with everything that a professional organization said or did, I wouldn't join anything! The people in charge represent the organization, so elect your officers carefully.
**I know that this was long, and I hope that I in no way was disrespectful to the opposite opinions expressed in earlier posts.