Are you thinking about which professional associations you should join? You may have just attended a conference, or read an article or met someone who has inspired you to get more involved in correctional nursing.
When correctional nurses participate in professional associations they help to promote advancement of the specialty consistent with The Scope and Standards of Professional Performance for Corrections Nursing published in 2007 by the American Nurses Association. Participation in professional organizations also reduces isolation that correctional nurses sometimes report experiencing and can be a source for continued professional development.
Chapter 19 in the Essentials of Correctional Nursing, contributing author , Mary Muse, MS, RN, CCHP-A, CCHP-RN discusses the reasons why and benefits of participation in professional associations. Fortunately there are a number of professional organizations that you can choose to join and in today’s world it is possible to enjoy many benefits of membership on-line. A suggested approach is to think about the aspects of professional membership that are most important to you. Factors to consider include:
• Presence of the organization in your area. Is there a local chapter or a number of colleagues in your area who belong?
• Common interests. How much information, resources, and professional development does the organization offer that are in your area of interest?
• Membership fees. What does it cost to join and what benefits does membership provide?
• Volunteer opportunity. How does one get involved more actively in the organization? Is there work you would like to volunteer for in the organization?
Some may suggest that one association is better than another or imply that there is a specific association that you should join. This is not the case; each of the associations described below has a unique beginning, purpose and culture. You may decide to join more than one because each offers something of interest to you. The following are brief descriptions of the professional membership associations (listed alphabetically) that correctional nurses should consider joining.
The Academy of Correctional Health Professionals (ACHP) provides professional development, promotes the exchange of information within the community of correctional health care, and advances the practice of correctional health care. Members receive the newsletter CorrectCare and a subscription to the Journal of Correctional Health Care and discounts on continuing education and conferences affiliated with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). Annual membership is $75. For Certified Correctional Health Professionals (CCHP) membership is reduced to $50 annually. For more information go to
The American Correctional Association (ACA) is committed to improving the criminal justice system. The Healthcare Professional Interest Section brings health care professionals together with corrections professionals to foster ideas and solutions to important issues in correctional health and security operations. The ACA sponsors two national conferences each year with a track of presentations dedicated to correctional health care. Members receive discounts on conference registration and other services and products available through ACA as well as a subscription to the magazine, Corrections Today. Annual membership fees range from $35 to $100 depending upon the level of benefits chosen by the member. Many states also have established local associations or affiliates of ACA and sponsor conferences or other professional gatherings that promote criminal justice. Health care professionals may join and participate in these local affiliates as well.
The American Correctional Health Services Association (ACHSA) serves as a forum for the current issues and needs of correctional health professionals. In addition to the national organization, several states have established local chapters. ACHSA holds one major educational conference each year and each of the chapters holds at least one conference annually. Members receive a newsletter, CORHEALTH, and discounts on conference registration and other products. ACHSA also develops position statements on various topics of concern and serves as a network for advice and career development. Annual membership is $50 and chapter affiliation an additional $10-$15.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) represents the interests of nurses nationally and through state affiliate chapters. The ANA recognized correctional nursing as a specialty in 1985 and has established the scope and standards of practice. The least expensive level of membership is $45 annually which provides on-line access to journals, reference material and discussion groups (specific to issues of nursing in the correctional setting) in addition to the discounts on continuing education, conference fees and other services and products.
The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) is comprised of forensic nurses who work to establish and improve standards of forensic nursing practice, provide educational opportunities for forensic nurses, promote the exchange of ideas and prevent violence. The Association defines forensic nursing as including nurses who care for patients in the correctional setting. Membership provides access to the Journal of Forensic Nursing and a newsletter, “On the Edge” as well as discounted registration to the annual international Scientific Assembly and other products or services made available through the organization. In addition to the international organization, many regional or state chapters have been established to provide networking, resources and continuing education pertinent to forensic nurses in the local area. International membership is $129; chapter member pay an additional $30 annually.
Are you a member of one of these professional associations? Weigh in on the benefits you have received from participation using the comments section of this post.
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