RNAO membership provides advocacy, information and mentorship throughout your career.
Diana Bolton
Take A.I.M with RNAO membership

You may wonder how you would have time for membership given your many work responsibilities. The real question should be: How can you afford not to make time? What are the pros of joining your professional nursing association? Membership will refine your clinical practice with educational opportunities, boost your morale and provide you with a voice.

Whether you’re at the beginning of your nursing career or a long-time registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) – or even if you’re in your first year of nursing school – membership in the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is value-added for many reasons. Membership allows you to better understand key issues and navigate your career more successfully so you can focus on caring for your patients while growing as a professional. Taking aim at the three key areas below highlights how RNAO benefits you.

A is for advocacy

Have you ever tried to get everyone’s attention at once in a crowded room? One person’s voice alone may not do it. A professional association can serve as your megaphone and help amplify your needs. A group is more easily heard and provides the kind of leverage that results in genuine, tangible action. 

Without any leverage, you – and your profession – are at the mercy of policy makers who may simply not believe that you or the nursing profession needs additional resources. 

RNAO gives nurses a voice. And that voice is our power. We use it to mobilize members when we issue action alerts. We also mobilize that voice through the media and social media. It has helped us raise issues such as the nursing crisis, the need to support the decision of the court that struck down Bill 124, which unfairly limits competitive compensation, the urgency of decreasing heavy workloads, and the dangerously low rates offered through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). These are just a few examples. Other priorities include the opioid overdose crisis, the health of our environment and the ongoing need for masking. Media outreach on these issues makes members and the public aware of them, which is key in order to see progress.

Another prime reason to join RNAO? Professional liability protection (PLP) comes with your RNAO membership. RNAO membership gives you the PLP you need to satisfy the College of Nurses of Ontario’s (CNO) mandatory liability protection requirement. Legal risk is an inevitable part of nursing practice – but RNAO has you covered. 

PLP – an automatic benefit provided with RNAO membership for RNs and NPs, protects member RNs and NPs from bearing the cost of legal expenses and civil damages in the event of a civil lawsuit or criminal investigation as a result of professional nursing services rendered. Should you be named in a lawsuit, PLP provides support for legal representation to protect yourself – you will not have to face this type of problem alone.

RNAO also has an extra optional Legal Assistance Program (LAP) for members ($60), which covers other risk exposures in nursing practice that fall outside the scope of PLP. Ask yourself, who will protect you if you have a work-related injury but the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board denies your claim? Or, who will help you if your registration with the CNO is threatened because you were named in a complaint? Together, PLP and LAP provide comprehensive legal protection for RNAO members for these and several other legal issues. 

I is for information

Belonging to RNAO provides you with the kinds of information you need to work effectively. The health-care arena is complex and quickly evolving. Keeping up to date with what’s happening in health system transformation gives you an advantage. Your professional association is on your side to assist you when you need it most and will address your knowledge gaps by providing you with the information you need to stay current. 

While being a competent practitioner is a must, to advance in your career with new challenges and competitive compensation requires an advantage. Being a member of RNAO enables you to have top information at your fingertips – especially if you join one or more of our specialty interest groups (IG). You can take advantage of many educational sessions, some only available to IG members. And, keeping on top of developments through meetings and resources will allow you to grow and shine as a practitioner.

The information you need, right now

RNAO advocates for the people you have cared for, for your role as an RN, NP, nursing student –  and, mostly – for your wellbeing. We have transformed responses to two comprehensive RNAO surveys into a full set of retention and recruitment recommendations – including the repeal of Bill 124. These recommendations – featured in two RNAO reports, Work and Wellbeing Survey Results and Nursing Through Crisis, and shared through our federal and provincial budget submissions and election platforms – remain at the centre of our ongoing advocacy. Through your eyes, ears and voices, we will continue to target advocacy and action to address the critical health system issues that will be paramount post-pandemic.


  • Networking. Whether held virtually or in person, meetings allow you to interact directly with peers who face similar issues. As you encounter both challenges and opportunities on a daily basis to do your work, the kind ear of a colleague and the wisdom provided by a friendly conversation with a peer who truly understands are the types of interactions that have a positive effect on your mental health and morale. The networking available through our local chapters and interest groups can energize you and motivate you to keep going – and to pursue career advancement if you so choose. 
  • Access to members-only content. All information online is not created equally. This means that articles containing more specialized information – the kind you need – are often hidden behind firewalls online and provided on a members-only basis. “You don’t know what you don’t know” is the phrase that comes to mind. That is, when you are not a member of RNAO, you don’t know how many helpful articles you are missing because only members have access to RNJ and In The Loop. 

RNAO membership allows you to access website content that is helpful, factually accurate and useful to you in your practice and in your academic endeavors. When you are doing your own research online and not using a reputable health or clinical database and do not belong to a professional association that has a publishing process that fact checks the information you see, you may be exposing yourself to erroneous information. 

M is for mentorship

At some point in your career, you may feel the need to connect with colleagues and to give back to the community that helped nurture your own growth. After decades of nursing, many would like to pass along wisdom to new practitioners. Belonging to a professional association allows one to do just that. 

Or, as a new RN or NP, you may feel it would be beneficial to be able to confer with a wiser colleague on how best to proceed in your career. Belonging to RNAO benefits both seasoned members who would like to give back and novice RNs and NPs who can find long-time practitioners who have the words of wisdom and advice needed for you.

Because RNAO values mentorship, those with whom you are speaking at meetings are those who will someday be the leading voices of the profession. Also, you will find that the type of mentoring that happens at professional association conferences leads to insights, new career opportunities and lasting friendships. 


What do RNAO members say about the association?

The best advice you can receive often comes from trusted colleagues. RNAO members have a lot to be thankful for and their words say it best. 

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