Health careers, with its substantial depth and diversity, are represented by a corresponding variety of professional associations. These organizations offer a number of benefits for the price of membership. Associations act as primary sources of continuing education related to their specialties, publish medical journals, and offer an opportunity for colleagues to share ideas. Some associations include a political component advocating for medical causes. Many organizations or associations offer a career center and listing of open positions for members.
Physicians and medical students commonly join the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest physician association in the US. The AMA offers educational resources, government policy advocacy, and a range of practice resources, including business advice. The American Academy of Physician Assistants educates the public on the role of physician assistants, offers news and information, provides CME, and offers opportunities for connecting with others in the field. The largest nursing organization in the world is the American Nurses Association, a resource for nursing careers, policy information, and continuing education. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), formerly the American Society for Medical Technology, offers continuing education and legislative advocacy for the clinical laboratory science practitioners. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, formerly the American Association for Medical Transcription, upholds the standards of education and practice in the transcription field while offering continuing education and credentialing. The Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy is part of the American Hospital Association and welcomes all health care providers with an interest in patient advocacy and offers resources and professional development opportunities.
Not all organizations work on a national scale. Regional, state, and local organizations abound. Each state, for example, has its own medical association, physician assistant association, and nurses association. National organizations offer substantial advocacy, national job listings, and large-scale continuing education, while state and local organizations offer job listings on a state or local scale, continuing education meetings on general topics and topics of special interest for the location, and newsletters that keep members abreast of changes in state law and medical issues. Local organizations especially excel in offering area networking opportunities for its members. Local and state organizations also provide the opportunity for educational and social gatherings where health care workers can meet and speak with nearby colleagues. These gatherings offer an ideal opportunity for generalists and specialists to learn more about each other, build relationships, and meet potential employers.
Some healthcare organizations do not relate to specific health careers, but to the health field as a whole. The American Hospital Association represents hospitals, healthcare networks, patients, and communities. It covers all health care providers from psychiatric and substance abuse services to rural hospitals. The American Hospital Association has a strong political advocacy arm, researches healthcare and hospital trends, and helps hospitals pursue excellence. Each state has its own hospital association, representing the interests of state hospitals, health systems, and related organizations. Hospital administrators, administrators at other health care providers, and political advocates may especially consider individual membership. The American Hospital Association offers societies organized around specific professional groups that offer additional networking opportunities.
More than 100 journals cover topics relevant to health careers. Journals contain medical research, case studies, subject reviews, professional letters, career opportunities, and notices of professional and continuing education events. Some journals also include information on new medical equipment, insurance industry changes, and office procedures.
All health care workers might benefit from the information in medical journals, though most are oriented toward doctors. Prominent medical journals include The New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and Lancet. Other medical journals, such as Annals of Internal Medicine, American Journal of Cardiology, and Neurology Journal, focus on specific medical specialties. These journals include more specific, detailed research oriented towards practicing specialists and researchers. Some are very specific such as The Air Medical Journal, the official journal of air medical transport associations, or Melanoma Research, a journal focusing on a specific cancer.
While nurses would certainly benefit from the knowledge in medical journals, nursing journals that highlight nursing care and patient management provide important educational assets. The American Journal of Nursing and Journal of Professional Nursing act as popular resources. As with physician specialties, nurse specialties often provide their own journal resources including AORN Journal for perioperative registered nurses, Advances in Neonatal Care for pediatric nurses, and Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention for cardiac nurses.
Some journals focus on general care and lifestyle issues as opposed to medical research and developments. The Journal of Christian Nursing discusses nurses focusing on medical and spiritual care. The Journal of Nursing Care Quality promotes quality principles in practice, while Family & Community Health focuses on approaches for public and community health programs.
Specialized journals are also available for technology and support positions in medical practices and hospitals. Medical technologists benefit from the Journal of the American Society for Medical Technology, while medical office staff might find Journal of Medical Systems and the Journal of Medical Practice Management useful.
Health career journals are available by subscription and often provide a limited number of articles on their websites. Online-only journals have become more prevalent due to the lower cost of production and ease of distribution. While online journals can and do provide accurate and relevant information, readers should pay special attention to the journal's source and the articles' authors to evaluate the quality and relevance of them. Notices for new issues can be sent to email addresses.
Anyone considering a health career, education, or health care degree, should consider a journal subscription to track the latest developments in the field, learn about educational and job opportunities, and read the forum to learn about pressing issues in the field. For practitioners, journals offer recent research and information, a forum for ideas, and continuing education opportunities.
Last Updated: 05/21/2014