Emergency Nurse's Association: What's in it for me?
In September, I attended the 2013 Emergency Nurse's National Conference. This was my second national conference this year. Before 2013, I barely gave the association a second thought.
I did not see the value in joining. That's why.
Like any major alteration in ideals, my decision to become active in the ENA is a long story filled with fateful twists and turns, including some blind corners. But the short version? I was curious about what the ENA had to offer. As a result of a small inquiry, I was challenged to help build up the local chapter. I accepted the role of Chaper President. And now I see all that the ENA has to offer every emergency nurse in the world (because there are international members, believe it or not).
What's in it for me?
1) The first point of value came for me when I met other frustrated ED nurses. I suddenly realized I WAS NOT ALONE. There are many emergency departments facing the same issues. And there are lots of ideas out there to help nurses problem solve. There are TWENTY virtual communities to choose from in which members ask questions and share ideas, called Listservs My email is bursting with information and I only belong to one listserve.
2) The ENA also offers free CE's. Currently, there are nineteen courses offered--only to ENA members. And there are discounts for other learning programs, like the CEN prep class. Plus, there are academic scholarships and other educational opportunities to help nurses further their education.
3) But my favorite part of the ENA is the networking. Everyone talks about it, but until I started going to conferences I didn't exactly understand what it meant. I used to believe it was using someone to get what you want--a raise or a new job or promotion. But in reality, it's so much more. At the National Conference this month, I met more than one past ENA President. Each one of them shared valuable gems of leadership skill, and they probably don't even know it. I met people eager to mentor me, both inside the ENA and out. I found people willing to share protocols and policies they created. In short, I now have contacts in twelve hospitals in Massachusetts. So on the days where I feel scared or unsure, I can reach out to someone personally and be supported professionally. And don't we all need that sometimes?
I know I probably sound like a commercial for the ENA, but I am truly very proud to be a member in this organization. I finally see that my career does not end at the ambulance doors. My knowledge and skill does not have to die with me--I can leave a legacy if I spread my wings and try. Nursing in the Emergency setting is a career, not just a job. And I am more glad than ever I chose this field.
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