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Differences Between a Board of Nursing and a Professional Nurse Association

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Nursing is a very highly regulated profession. There are over 100 boards of nursing and national nursing associations throughout the United States and its territories

Their existence helps regulate, inform, and promote nursing profession. With such numbers, it can be difficult to distinguish between BONs and nursing associations, and overwhelming to consider various benefits and options offered by each. Both boards of nursing and national nursing associations have significant impacts on the nurse practitioner profession and scope of practice. Understanding these differences helps lend credence to one' expertise as a professional, that is why this topic is very important. While at times it can seem like the BON restricts nursing practice, the boards do try to have an even keel in protecting the public from harm while setting minimal qualifications and competencies that are required of those working in the profession. BONs not only benefit the public by ensuring that providers are qualified and competent, but also protect individual nurses by establishing clear legal authorization for the scope of practice. Boards of Nursing also work to educate nurses on the ever-changing laws. Licensure by the boards also benefits nurses as it safeguards the use of certain titles such as RNs, LPN/VNs and APRNS; only licensed nurses are able to use these types of titles.

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Although Board of Nursing and professional nursing associations are both involved in the arena of nursing, nursing associations serve a different purpose and provide different services to their nursing membership and the public. Nursing regulation is the governmental oversight provided for nursing practice in each state. Nursing is regulated because it is one of the health professions that pose risk of harm to the public if practiced by someone who is unprepared and incompetent. The public may not have sufficient information and experience to identify an unqualified health care provider, and is vulnerable to unsafe and incompetent practitioners. Boards of nursing are authorized to develop administrative rules and regulations that are used to clarify or make the statutes more specific. Rules and regulationsmust be consistent with the Nurse Practice Act, cannot go beyond the law, and, once enacted, have the force and effect of law. Public comment periods areprovided to allow nurses, students and the public to participate in the rule-making process by submitting written comments or participating in rule-making hearings. When nurses unite together on important issues that affect the profession by joining an association, that voice is strengthened; an especially important factor that’s necessary for the advancement of nursing. For example, associations specifically for NPs (like the AANP) advocate for the role of APRNs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered healthcare but have a more broad focus in their support efforts for NPs. Other organizations like the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association focus their efforts on supporting NPs in these specialties

Associations position individual nurses to be on the forefront of practice changes that are important to their practice areas.

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The American Nurses Association (ANA) represents a professional board of nurses throughout the United States of America (Cherry & Jacob, 2014, p. 63). The ANA works with thelegislature to create, regulate, and take a stand on political issues. The ANA advocates for nurses, establishing standards, scope of practice, and a code of ethics (FAQ, 2017)

The Board of Nursing is defined as an organization that represent nurses in each given state. Cherry & Jacob, 2014, p. 63). The Board of Nursing is responsible for nurse licensure, disciplinary action, and revoking nursing license after disciplinary action has been taken (Cherry& Jacob, 2014, p. 68). The Board of Nursing differs from the ANA by the regulation of state board nursing practices while the ANA advocates for nurses (FAQ, 2017).

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To summarize, unlike the BON, a nursing association (also called a professional association) is a private organization whose members must pay dues to enjoy the benefits of membership. One of the primary functions of a nursing association is to represent its members in legislative, political, and practice matters. It provides a central voice for its nurse membership. A nursing association can lobby the legislature and Governor for the interests of its members and the profession of nursing. A nursing association provides a united voice that can speak out on the issues important to a specific area of nursing practice and/or to the nursing profession as a whole. In addition, a nursing association provides leadership in other areas such as improving working conditions and benefits for nurses. A nursing association also may lead the way in developing public health policies. The Board and the nursing associations have separate but equally important roles. The nursing associations represent their members, while the Board serves people through assuring licensed nurses meet minimum standards of safe practice.

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Barbara Cherry (2014) Contemporary Nursing, 7th Edition

Thurgood, G. (2011). Teamwork: Working with other people. In: R. Burton & G. Ormrod (Eds.).Nursing: Transition to professional practice.(pp.118-157). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Verhovsek, E., Byington, R. & Deshkulkarni, S. (2013). Perceptions of interprofessional communication: Impact on patient care, occupational stress and job satisfaction.The Internet Journal of Radiology.12(2) Retrieved December 20, 2014,

Hall, P., & Weaver, L. (2001). Interdisciplinary education and teamwork: A long and winding road. Medical Education, 35, 867 – 875.

David Hutton (2009)Professional Advisor Revalidation, Nursing and Midwifery Council Preceptorship Framework for Newly Registered Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals Department of Health (2009)

Goodman, B. & and Clemow, R. (2010).Nursing and collaborative practice: A guide to interprofessional learning.

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