See this article published in the Tennessee Nurse in the Summer of 2008. The Tennessee Nurse is a publication of the Tennessee Nurses Association.
Do you feel you its your professional obligation to pay professional association dues?
For me its the perceived value in professional association dues. I don't mind paying dues for an organization if I feel (subjective) that I am receiving my money's worth. I don't need anyone to point to the tangible benefits of belonging (objective) to a professional association.
The key for professional association survival is for professional association (not potential members) to mesh and combine the subjective with the objective for me if they want my hard earned money.
Your professional obligation—pay your dues
Five percent of the people reading this editorial can stop now because this doesn't apply to you, but 95% of you need to keep on reading because you are receiving the benefits of the Tennessee Nurses Association without paying your dues. For the past several years, I have been conducting an analysis of TNA membership. This has not been a sophisticated study with statistical striations-it has simply been a sort of campaign to ask the question-why are you not a member of your professional association?
Every month I review the cancelled memberships and make phone calls to various members. Some nurses say they don't agree with TNA so they don't join--I say pay your dues and influence change. Often nurses are guilty of forgetting to renew and just a need a reminder, other times we don't have accurate information on how to locate the member, but most often, the reason for not joining or not renewing I hear is related to the cost of membership.
Louise Browning, our former Executive Director, said it best when she quoted the philosopher Pogo, "we are faced with insurmountable opportunity." Could Pogo have been referring to Tennessee's 70,000 registered nurses when he made that profound observation?
The Tennessee Nurses Association is the only organization in our state whose mission is to promote and protect the registered nurse and advance the practice of nursing in order to assure a healthier Tennessee. The formation of TNA in 1905 began with the drive to develop and pass a law to regulate nursing practice. The first bill was introduced in 1907, but was defeated. In 1909, a second attempt was made to pass a bill, and it was once again defeated. But, on February 14, 1911, after much tenacious lobbying by TNA members across Tennessee, the first nurse practice act became law. Today, the nurse practice act regulates nursing and protects the public from unsafe nursing practice. The law includes a clear definition of professional nursing practice and necessary educational qualifications a registered nurse must have in order to practice; it also outlines the criteria schools of nursing must meet in order to gain approval by the board of nursing to educate registered nurses. TNA continually updates the nurse practice act to reflect the changing role of the registered nurse. This is just one example of how we began and what we do for each of you everyday that we exist.
You should feel an obligation to contribute to the profession of nursing by paying your dues. Everyday we make decisions that affect the practice of nursing for the 70,000 registered nurses in Tennessee--no one should expect the services for free, but that is in fact what happens when you don't join. Membership is important to both you and the organization.
So how do we rank among other professional associations in membership fees? Some of the strongest associations in numbers have the highest dues structure; logic would lead me to believe we need to increase our dues and get more members. For example, the Tennessee Medical Association's annual dues are $485 and the Tennessee Dental Association's annual dues are $375. They are two of the stronger associations in Tennessee, both in membership and Political Action Committee contributions. The logic doesn't work when you study the various associations in our state. (Table 1.0) Membership fees don't drive the decision; the professionalism of the individual making the decision drives the membership.
Yes, this is a challenge to each and every one of you to think with a serious heart and mind about your contribution to the association that keeps vigil over your practice. Think with a serious heart and mind that nursing professionalism is just as important as that of dentists and medical doctors. Tennesseans expect us to rise to a level of professionalism and be active participants. Don't let your profession down!
Laura Beth Brown, MSN, RN TNA President
COPYRIGHT 2008 Tennessee Nurses Association
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning