How nursing associations increase their membership numbers

October 17, 2022


Looking to target a new audience and generate excitement for your nursing association? Download our playbook to redefine your purpose, adapt to the digital age, and generate more value for new and existing members.

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Your Nursing Association Matters!

Professional nursing organizations and associations generate energy and ideas that impact healthcare. There’s power in numbers, and when nurses work together, they improve conditions and create value for the communities they serve.

Nursing associations like yours are critical to the industry. And yet, less than ten percent of our nation’s registered nurses are members of a local, regional, or national nursing association.

Why Nursing Association Numbers Are Declining

To understand why nursing association memberships are declining, it helps to review why nurses join these organizations in the first place.

Some recent research has the answers. According to a survey conducted for a recent membership study, nurses join associations for the following reasons:

  • Continuing education 
  • Access to resources 
  • Professional development
  • Discounts
  • Networking opportunities
  • Meetings, conferences, and events
  • Political influence
  • Alignment with the organization’s mission

Joining an organization clearly provides benefits. At the same time, there are many reasons for why nurses do not join associations:

1. Membership Cost

Nursing education can be expensive, leaving nurses with approximately $20,000 in student debt

With average association costs reaching nearly $200 a year, many nurses struggle to justify the expense where membership value is concerned. To address this issue, organizations can reassess membership fees, upgrade services, and effectively communicate their value proposition to prospective members.

2. Perceived lack of value

According to multiple association surveys, many prospective members do not believe that membership is worth the cost. Accordingly, researchers found that roughly 18% do not join professional organizations due to a lack of information. 

In addition, many students entering the nursing profession are confused about what local, regional, or national organizations to join. As a result, many join national nursing organizations — possibly due to better digital services and medical association management.

3. Personal life issues

Without a doubt, nursing is one of the most challenging occupations. Long hours, patient care demands, and emotional stress can cause numerous mental and physical issues that extend beyond the workplace.

In addition, many nurses struggle to achieve a healthy work-life balance. According to a survey published in Rehabilitation Nursing, many nurses decline to join associations due to family responsibilities and lack of time. Associations can address this issue by assisting members via mentorship programs, forums, and other private networking opportunities to give nurses support when needed.

5 Ways to Grow Your Nursing Association Membership

Nursing association memberships may be declining, but you can adapt to changing conditions by aligning your business strategy to the digital environment.

Some ways to get started include:

1. Upgrade your digital services

The #1 step your association can make to increase organizational capacities and attract young healthcare professionals is to improve digital services.

There are two primary ways to upgrade your digital presence. 

The first way is to add applications as needed, such as a learning management system (LMS) or a new nursing association website. This path may be cost-effective initially, but you may encounter future problems when linking services and sharing data between systems.

The next option is to leverage a future-forward digital transformation strategy where you integrate multiple healthcare solutions at once. For many organizations, this solution saves money long-term by integrating applications to reduce redundant tasks, eliminate duplicate data entry, and automate workflows.

The benefits of an integrated system for members and your team are immediate, enabling you to:

  • Streamline payment systems to make it easy to pay for dues and continuing education
  • Publish website information, manage members, and communicate events and activities on a unified interface
  • Offer a portal that includes member support, educational materials, industry news, and nursing research
  • Coordinate financial systems to share real-time data, and create customized reports for management and the board of directors

Young professionals across every industry are online. Adapting your nursing association to the digital landscape requires that you offer the same standard prospective members expect from larger organizations. Modern software and strategy solutions for the healthcare industry give you the tools to meet and exceed their expectations.

2. Lead the industry in continuing education

According to a study examining barriers to association membership, nurses cited continuing education as the number one reason for joining an organization. 

Continuing medical education is mandatory to maintain a professional nursing practice. Given the demands nurses face, nursing associations can add value by offering continuing education options that make the process easier and more time-efficient.

Associations of any size and budget can create engaging, interactive online learning experiences on a budget with next-generation LMS systems. Tools provided by modern learning systems enable you to easily create courses while tracking progress and providing a clear path to leadership opportunities. 

When combined with a mentoring program, continuing education helps nurses achieve professional goals and makes your association central to career development.

3. Revisit your marketing strategy

Marketing is an evolving science. Make sure you leverage the most current healthcare association marketing strategies to attract nursing students and young industry professionals.

An effective marketing plan includes targeted content creation, social media engagement, mass emailing, and digital advertising. Also ensure your strategy includes key metrics for measuring member engagement - it’s the best way to track your success.

4. Create “must attend” nursing events

Networking events are one of the most common reasons professionals join an association. 

Organizing events promotes active participation and enables new members and students to create a young professionals healthcare network. Besides encouraging active participation and building long-term relationships, virtual and in-person events can also help fulfill continuing medical education requirements. 

When holding events, encourage participation by featuring social media healthcare influencers, offering scholarships, and giving away door prizes. Virtual events are another option to expand your audience by enabling members from all locations to network and participate in association activities online.

5. Give nurses a voice on social issues that matter

Young nursing professionals are dedicated to improving healthcare through advocacy for numerous issues that affect access to care and workplace legislation. 

Make your organization central to their efforts with healthcare policy advocacy tools that enable local, regional, and national participation. When fused with your membership management system, advocacy software helps your association easily create grassroots campaigns on issues that matter most to members.

Reinvent your nursing association to boost your profile, grow your audience, and attract new members

Association digital transformation is the key to adapting your nursing association to the online environment. Download our Medical Association Playbook to learn how to create a targeted strategy that generates excitement and boosts memberships.

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