• Lacey Finley

    By Lacey Finley
    Kaplan University School of Health Sciences 

    The act of selecting a professional organization can be daunting, particularly for students and recent graduates who are new to their selected field or still working to fully identify their career goals. As a student or graduate, ask yourself the following questions to pause and evaluate:

    • What are the benefits of joining a professional organization? 
    • Which professional organization is right for you? 
    • How can professional organizations be utilized in a meaningful way? 
    • Where should you start? 

    Engaging in Student Organizations

    One proactive step is to be involved in student organizations at the university level. Make the most of the connections and resources available to you while you are working on your degree. These opportunities will be of great value to you during your time at the university and long after graduation. Beyond connections, student organizations provide a preview of what it is like to be a member of a professional organization. 

    Kaplan University offers numerous student organizations including, Diversity Club, SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society, Student Advisory Board, the Society for Collegiate Leadership and Achievement, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Ambassadors and Leaders Group, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. If you do not know where to start in your student organization exploration, visit the Kaplan University’s Student Life Student Organization page for a full list of clubs, groups, and honor societies.

    Benefits of Professional Organizations

    Professional organization membership benefits vary. The benefit variance can drive the yearly membership cost.  It is important to be thoughtful regarding what benefits are included with the professional membership cost.  For example, the Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals (AHCAP) provides free webinars, a quarterly newsletter, discussion forums, and access to social media networking channels. The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) provides members with the opportunity to connect with professionals in their local chapters, three topic specific publications distributed throughout the year, and potential certification programs. AAHAM offers a student membership that provides students with three publications and well as job bank and networking access. 

    Upon graduation, be thoughtful about your current career path and evaluate what organization or organizations will be of the most benefit to you. Examine what areas of research and professional development are of interest to you.  Look at the organization’s publications. Will you actively read the publication articles?  Will the resources available to you be of value to you from a professional standpoint? These questions should drive the selection decision process. 

    Beyond membership benefits, be thoughtful about what you have to offer to the organization. Professional organization membership is a joint effort among professionals for the betterment of their industry. Regard professional organization membership as an act of contributing. Consider your areas of interest and research. Be thoughtful about what you can contribute at the local and national level. 

    In order to prepare for continued engagement in professional organizations students should consider becoming involved in university sponsored groups, clubs, and honor societies. From there, consider joining AAHAM as a student member to get a better understanding of what a professional organization has to offer.  Be proactive in organization involvement while working toward a degree. Evaluate how you can effectively contribute to a professional organization and use the organization’s resources in a meaningful way.   


    Lacey Finley is a faculty member in the School of Health Sciences. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.

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