We cannot afford not to join

A member writes: When I was first asked to contribute to this website, I agreed without hesitation. But now, as I reflect on my experience of being a member, I find it difficult to articulate the enormous respect and gratitude I feel towards the Association.

As a newly qualified nurse and midwife in the ‘80s, like many of my colleagues I joined the then New South Wales Nurses’ Association with great enthusiasm.  I’m not really sure why I joined. I certainly never contemplated that I would need the Association’s assistance. There was no particular agenda. It just seemed the right thing to do.

At this time hospital-based training was transitioning to university, knowledge was not easily accessible and I waited eagerly for my regular instalment from The Lamp. This was a trusted major source of information for nurses then and remains so today.

Over many years I paid my fees without giving much thought to it. I had contacted them for advice regarding our award a couple of times but never had to approach the Association for assistance. Although I remained a member, I felt confident that years of experience and study would support me if a problem ever arose.

This changed after I raised a concern involving an issue of patient safety and found myself on the wrong side of management. At first I expected my workplace’s internal dispute resolution mechanisms to step in. I also felt that having the support of my colleagues would protect me. But I was wrong and soon realised I needed to approach the Association for assistance.

I would like to tell whoever is reading this that the Association not only resolved my problem, but that its staff did so with diligence, professionalism and honesty at all times. They provided the support and guidance I needed to continue working in difficult conditions. I cannot imagine now what I could have done if I had not been a member and able to call on their support.

Nurses and midwives of my generation have seen many changes in health care delivery. I have often heard colleagues discuss the cost of being a member of the Association and heard them say they would love to join but really cannot afford it. My experience has taught me the opposite: that we cannot afford not to join.

We need a strong Association with a full membership base to secure our interests and the interests of our patients. I encourage you all to become members.