Myths and Misconceptions : I can't join my state nurses association because...

  1. found this great article why nurses won"t join their professional association. change the name of the state to the one you live in...sure is true about pa.

    biggest misconception: ana is made up of administrators and educators.

    fact: staff nurses make up the largest group of ana members.

    ncna myths and misconceptions

    a daily basis we hear things that nurses say about the north carolina nurses association (ncna) and find ourselves in the position of clarifying our purpose and our actions. often, when we ask, the person who made the statement is not (and never has been) a member of the association. in addition, they often have not taken the time to read the tar heel nurse and have little or no understanding of the purpose and mission of our organization. since our members get our newsletter, we thought we would address these myths and misconceptions on the ncna website.

    ncna administers nursing licenses in the state. this is definitely not true. nor are we involved with the disciplinary process or the approval of nursing education programs. the purpose of the nc board of nursing (ncbon) is to protect the public. ncna is the advocacy group for professional nursing and their role in providing health care in the state. ncna staff and members are representing ncna membership on committees established by the ncbon, attend ncbon meetings to provide input from the professional association's perspective, and keep our members informed on issues which affect them directly. we are fortunate that ncna and the ncbon have a very close working relationship.

    ncna is only made up of nurses with baccalaureate degrees and higher--most of the members are educators and administrators.
    membership in ncna is encouraged for all registered nurses in every area of practice and experience. particular education experience is not a requirement for individual members and there is no distinction made for membership or participation based on education. all members are eligible to participate in all activities. participation and involvement is completely up to the individual member, but you have to show up to have your voice heard.

    ncna dues cost too much. running a business is costly. we are not a social club. we are a serious political entity and a strong advocacy group. we are funded primarily by our membership dollars. our work is driven by our peer member elected board of directors and delegates to the house of delegates. our work represents all registered nurses. membership dues fund the operations of the state headquarters with a full-time staff and provide a full-time lobbyist at the general assembly. on a daily basis, these staff members improve the work environment for nurses, plan and implement continuing education opportunities, and advocate for nurses and their patients. at $275, our dues are mid-range compared to other state nurses associations and much lower than many other professional organizations. we provide several ways to pay dues including a monthly deduction from your checking account of $24.

    i can't join ncna because the association is a union. no, ncna is not a union. in 2003, the ncna house of delegates amended the bylaws to enable ncna to become a full member of the center for american nurses (can), the workplace advocacy arm of the american nurses association. the association also has an insulated structure, the north carolina united american nurses (ncuan), which handles the activities of the collective bargaining unit at the durham va. the ncuan, in turn, is a member of the united american nurses (uan), the collective bargaining arm of the american nurses association. approximately 4.5% of ncna members work at the durham va and belong to the ncuan. they pay $338 per year with a portion of their dues going directly to the uan and a portion to support the activities of the durham va. no portion of the dues of the remaining 95.5% members goes to support collective bargaining activities at either the state or national level.

    i can't join ncna because i am an administrator. approximately 40% of north carolina's vps for nursing are members of ncna. in many cases, their employer pays their dues and also the dues of many of their departmental directors. years ago, there was a strong feeling that ana and ncna were a union. some districts were not allowed to meet in their local hospitals. some nursing administrators were not allowed to join. during the past several years, ncna has had an opportunity to educate individual ceo's of the nc hospital association about our strong promotion of workplace advocacy initiatives. our goal is a safe and comfortable workplace environment for registered nurses and quality care for their patients.

    i can't join because i don't want my money going to a political candidate i don't support. the truth of the matter is that if we do not support political candidates and throw our hat in the political ring, we will never "score" because we won't be in the game. membership dues are not used for political endorsements. endorsements and financial support to candidates come from the nc nurse ambassadors pac (support of state candidates) and the ana-pac (support of national candidates). these two entities are funded by volunteer contributions of individual members.

    whether you like politics or not, politics control everything we do and everything that happens in our practice. developing relationships in the political arena helps to get our voice heard. all the individuals in an organization will never agree on all the issues all the time. however, what we can agree on is to trust the wisdom of the leaders to position us so that we can have influence when it counts. at the same time, we ask our members to establish relationships with their legislators so that we have strong relationships all over the state. legislators remember when nurses visit and often tell us when they have been contacted by one of our members. on the other hand, they also tell us when they have not talked to nurses.

    please be advised that most health care issues are significantly linked to political budget issues. if we are not in the loop, our views are not considered, and the decisions can have a negative impact on the type of care we can provide. we are competing with opponents who are willing to put their money where their mouth is, and frankly, as nurses, we are not willing to do so. you may feel that other disciplines have more money to spend, but the truth of the matter is that we outnumber most of our competition. if each of us contributed a small amount of money, we could be a powerful force. and if you think we can establish these relationships without money, you are dreaming. endorsements and contributions secure the relationship you have established. there really are no free rides.

    ncna doesn't care about staff nurses. some staff nurses are either not in the position to be able to fully participate in the association or choose not to. those who do are vocal about issues related to practice and ncna tries its best to address those concerns. we can tell you that staff nurses often feel they are alone in the battle to make the workplace environment better. they often tell us that they feel no support from their colleagues at the bedside and that they are sticking their necks out with no one backing them up. we are fortunate to have strong staff nurse leaders and we urge their colleagues to join them.

    i don't need to belong to ncna because i belong to my specialty organization.ncna fully supports membership in specialty organizations. many of our members belong to several organizations. however, specialty organizations, though valuable, serve a very different purpose. while the specialty organizations generally address issues pertinent to that specialty, the professional association addresses issues that affect all of nursing. ncna is recognized as the political and professional leader in the state when it comes to nursing and health care issues.

    i don't need to belong to ncna because they don't do anything for me. you can't make this statement unless you have had direct interaction with ncna and closely monitored its activities. you also need to have an understanding of the organizational and political processes which only occurs if you actively participate. at the very least, we would encourage you to keep up with the issues by reading the tar heel nurse or checking the information on the website.

    i can't join because i don't have the time to go to meetings or do anything else to help. the majority of ncna members fall in this category. yes, we need people who can attend meetings, take leadership positions and serve on committees at the district, state and national level. however, we understand that membership means different things to different people. those who are committed to paying their dues are valuable members of the association whether they are able to attend meetings or not. those members provide valuable support and allow the work of the association to go on through the work of elected leaders, delegates and staff.

    they should . . . nurses continually speak of the invisible "they" who should fix their problems. when has that ever happened? all social and political change happens through the activities of a committed group of people and it doesn't happen overnight. nurses are not united. we argue among ourselves and attack each other. we separate into "tribes" and quibble over our own personal issues. guess what! the world knows it--especially our opponents. ncna is an organization made up of registered nurses, just like you. some are staff nurses, some are educators, some are entrepreneurs, some are aprns, some are researchers, some are administrators, and the list goes on.

    in summary . . . the only real reason not to join ncna is simply that you don't want to. while we do know there are some people who really have financial issues, we also have members who make ncna a priority in their budgets so that they have a voice in the future of nursing in north carolina. for those members who have become dissatisfied or have been angered by some issue, it simply diminishes our effectiveness. bring your issues to the table so we can all work on them together--presenting a united front. remember when you ask ncna to do something for you, you are not asking the seven people who work in the office or the 16 members of the board of directors. you are asking the nurse who works next to you and pays his or her dues to carry you for free. that nurse is paying for your advocacy. ncna is not the enemy. we are your colleagues and we need your voice and your membership.
    adapted from an article written for the florida nurse by willa fuller, director of membership services and public relations for the florida nurses association.
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  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    YES, staff nurses should join their State Nurses Association. If you don't agree with what they do participate, speak your mind, and run for office!