Nursing is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, and for good reason; at most recent figures, health care represents 17.9% of the national GDP, and nurses are a major part of how the health care system administers care to its patients. Nursing graduates enjoy some of the highest starting salaries of recent graduates. A wide variety of choices await nurses in every aspect of employment, including location, facility, specialty, hours and shift length. Prospective nurses have access to a wealth of free resources, which can be found online and via the resources outlined below.

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations offer nurses countless benefits, including networking, employment opportunities, and fun events. Members of professional organizations may also have access to mentorship opportunities, which are known to provide unmatched career advice to the mentee. Taking part in one of these organizations will undoubtedly give nurses an edge over their colleagues.

  • American Nurses Association (ANA) – The ANA represents 3.1 million registered nurses throughout the United States. It is a full-service organization that has the goal of representing nurses, promoting nurses rights in the workplace, ensuring a positive and realistic impression of nursing and fostering high standards of practice. The ANA also lobbies Congress and regulatory agencies on issues affecting nurses.
  • National Student Nurses Association – Since 1952, the National Student Nurse Association has made its mission to mentor students who are preparing to become nurses by communicating the skills, standards and ethics needed to excel in the nursing profession. The organization has members in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S.V.I.
  • Emergency Nurses Association – Founded in 1968 by nurses involved in emergency health care, this association tasks itself with acting as an authority, advocate, lobbyist and voice for emergency nurses around the world. The association's 40,000 members come from 35 countries and all strive to deliver excellence in emergency nursing practice.
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners – The American College of Nurse Practitioners joined together with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners to become the largest full-service nurse practitioner (NP) professional membership organization, representing all NP specialties.
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) – AANA represents almost 47,000 nurse anesthetists who administer in excess of 34 million anesthetics each year. Nurse anesthetists are the primary providers of anesthesia care in the rural United States; they administer anesthesia for every type of surgery and procedure as well as pain management.
  • American College of Nurse-Midwives – A professional association representing certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) as well as certified midwives (CMs) throughout the U.S. Dating back to 1929, American College of Nurse-Midwives sets the standard for excellence in midwifery education and practice. The college also works to strengthen the capacity of midwives in developing countries. The group works with a variety of organizations, state and federal agencies, and congress to improve the well-being of women and infants through the practice of midwifery.
  • Society of Pediatric Nurses – The mission of this society is to champion the specialty of pediatric nursing by supporting members in their practice. The society provides members with specialized continuing education, discounts on educational activities, a subscription to the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, communication with other pediatric healthcare professionals and more.
  • Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) – The 35,000 members of the ONS share a commitment to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and transforming cancer care by developing evidence-based education programs and treatment information. The society seeks to reduce the risks, incidence and burden of cancer by promoting healthy lifestyles and early detection. The group also seeks to improve the management of cancer symptoms and side effects.

Nursing Open Courseware

Open Courseware or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online courses that provide university level educational opportunities to large numbers of people via the web, usually for free. MOOCs/Opencourseware classes are offered by top academic institutions from around the world and afford participants the opportunity to expand their own knowledge base by exploring courses that they would not otherwise have access to.

  • Nursing Fundamentals – This course is offered through Kaplan University and covers the fundamentals of nursing and wellness. Other topics include patient safety, assessment, bathing, grooming, assisting with mobility and monitoring vital signs.
  • Interprofessional Healthcare Informatics – This is a graduate level course that looks at the implications of informatics in nursing, public health and healthcare in general. It is a hands-on, interactive examination of real tools and techniques that runs for 10 weeks and requires 2-3 hours of work each week.
  • The Science of Safety in Healthcare – Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing offers this introduction to the basic principles of the science of safety in healthcare. The course uses a systems approach to providing definitions and context of patient safety concepts and terms. Students are taught the importance of using data to guide efforts. Also covered is the use of Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) as a model to engage teams.
  • Introduction to Cardiac Care – Taught by Dr. Benjamin Lewis through Columbia University's Columbia Interactive website, this class introduces participants to the heart. Utilizing medical illustrations and diagnostic imagery, Dr. Lewis covers healthy heart functions, diagnostic tools and the significant differences in diagnosing and treating men and women.
  • Introduction to Health Policy – This Johns Hopkins School of Public Health course focuses on four areas that form the analytic basis for many of the issues in health policy and management, including economics and financing, need and demand, and politics-ethics-law and quality/effectiveness.

Open Access Nursing Journals

Nursing journals are fantastic resources for nurses who enjoy scholarly articles. Generally, the articles available online are peer-reviewed and can be used as a great resources for academic papers.

  • Open Journal of Nursing – This journal is dedicated to the latest advancements in nursing. Their goal is for scientists and academics from around the world to share and discuss various new issues and developments in a range of nursing areas.
  • BMC NursingBMC Nursing is a peer reviewed, open access journal that covers all aspects of nursing, research, education, training and practice. The journal is published by BioMed Central and is published on a bi-monthly basis.
  • Nursing Research and Practice – An open access, peer-reviewed journal, Nursing Research and Practice publishes original research and review articles as well as clinical studies in all areas of nursing.
  • Clinical Nursing Studies (CNS) – An international peer-reviewed journal that focuses on clinical nursing. This journal also covers topics such as ambulatory care, community care, family care, home and hospital, and primary and secondary public health. The goal of CNS is to enrich the insight into clinical nursing.
  • Advances in Nursing Science – Frequently listed as one of the most-read nursing journals, this open access, peer-reviewed journal is published quarterly. Each issue covers a single research topic with implications for patient care. Articles are chosen for their groundbreaking approach and point of view.
  • Journal of Advanced Nursing – This is an international, peer-reviewed journal whose readers are committed to advancing their practice and professional development. The focus is on evidence based nursing, midwifery and healthcare in general. Published monthly, both current and back issues are freely available online.

Nursing Books

Nursing is a diverse and complex field that is involved in virtually every facet of healthcare. There are several different types of books about the nursing profession, including personal memoirs, introductory material (for those considering a nursing career), and professional development.

  • Advanced Practice Nursing – Both of the national accrediting bodies for the nursing profession require that nursing curriculum include and emphasize professional standards. This volume provides those standards and includes chapters on various aspects of advanced nursing practice, including recent changes.
  • Your First Year as a Nurse – Making the transition from student to competent professional can be a daunting task, but the rewards of the successful evolution are a future in a challenging profession. This book offers insight into making decisions about finding the right job, developing a patient centered style of nursing and more.
  • Nursing 2014 Drug Handbook – This book includes complete monographs for almost 3,000 trade drugs and 900 generics, including 31 new drugs each with important considerations for nurses. This 34th edition uses consistent formatting to make referencing fast and easy. The book includes a pronunciation key as well as pregnancy risk, pharmacologic class and controlled substance schedule (where applicable).
  • Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing & Healthcare – This second edition of the best selling guide to evidence-based practice in nursing offers real-life examples in order to help readers actualize important concepts and work past obstacles to implement the best evidence-based care possible.
  • Prioritization, Delegation and Assignment: Practice Exercises – This NCLEX review book concentrates on prioritization, delegation and patient assignment to help establish foundational knowledge in management care. It provide exercises that progress in difficulty to aid in confidence building.
  • Nursing Professional Development Review and Resource Manual – Written by experts in the field of professional development for nurses, this edition helps readers to improve their critical thinking skills by identifying strengths and weaknesses. Also included is a reference tool and continuing education contact hours.

Online Nursing Magazines

The magazines contained in this section are focused on the nursing profession, and include general interest titles directed to nurses. Magazines offer a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest news in nursing. They are sometimes visually interesting and interactive, but always offer stimulating articles and great advice.

  • National Nurse Magazine – Digital versions of this magazine are available online. The publication covers activities of National Nurses United, and endeavors to cover news and analysis about nursing in the U.S. Healthcare system as a whole.
  • Advance Healthcare for Nurses – An online publication that includes regional editions. It covers a variety of topics including lifestyle, education, clinical tools and salaries. The website also offers webinars and continuing education opportunities.
  • Scrubs Magazine – This nurse's guide to good living features sections on career that includes advice, news and opinion, inspiration, salaries and more. Other sections include Nursing School, which has features regarding NCLEX and continuing education. Rounding out the publication are the following sections: Beauty and Style and Health and Fun.
  • The American Nurse – This is the official publication of the ANA. It is published six times a year and strives to keep nurses aware of the ANA's efforts to advance the nursing profession.
  • American Nurse Today – Published 12 times a year digitally and six times a year in print, this magazine provides timely information to aid in enhancing patient outcomes, developing professional careers, and building educational foundations and best practices.

Nursing Blogs

In the past few years, blogs have exploded onto the scene. Today, people use blogs for advice, enjoyment, and staying up-to-date on important topics. Nurses have access to countless blogs targeted to them, and can even interact with the blog's authors.

  • 10 Centimeters and Beyond – This blog is written by a labor and delivery nurse from a mid-size, Midwestern hospital. It is a thoughtful blog that is well written and captures the author's personal and professional experiences.
  • Digital Doorway – Reflections on nursing by Nurse Keith. The website is dedicated to coaching current nurses with tips to help them further their careers. Keith's commitment to assisting nurses pursue their passion without suffering from burnout has earned him awards and recognition across the blogosphere.
  • International Nurse Support – This blog, written by Joyce Fiodembo, features posts by many well respected nurses from the online community. Articles run the gamut from resumes to time management.
  • Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Blog – A variety of nurses\writers contribute to this lively and entertaining blog.
  • Diversity Nursing – A niche website that is for nurses at every stage of their career, from students to CNOs. This blog is dedicated to promoting nursing diversity.

Who to Follow on Twitter

Twitter has changed the way we communicate and share thoughts and ideas. Keeping track of the latest news and trends in nursing, as well as amusing anecdotes and inspiration designed to help you make it through a tough shift, are the goals of the following feeds:

  • @onlinenursing – Spreading the word about how nursing can change healthcare.
  • @learae – She's a nurse, an entrepreneur, and a business coach whose 7,000 followers enjoy her business advice on becoming a "nursepreneur."
  • @josephweaver – RN, author, and Captain in the USAR, Joe has a base of 50,00 followers who keep up with the author of The Tao of Quitting Smoking for support and advice on quitting nicotine for good.
  • @Nurse_Problems – Think you're the only one with problems? Think again! This amusing twitter feed is good for a quick chuckle when you need it most.
  • @Nurse_com – A leading source of nursing news, career opportunities and continuing education.