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Nursing organizations assume a significant role in consistently developing the nursing profession through education, research studies, establishing practice standards, and reforming health policies. Typically, nursing organizations operate at the regional, national, and international levels. For example, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) represents more than 28 million nurses worldwide. In contrast, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is a membership organization representing nurses at the national level in the United States.

National nursing organizations set standards for nursing practice and education. Their primary focus is on current nursing issues and healthcare to advance the nursing profession and improve patient care. Professional nursing organizations work for policy changes and lobby on behalf of nurses and healthcare at all levels of government. Generally, the varying professional nursing organizations support the individual nurse in career development, beginning with nursing education.

The primary goal of the ANA is to empower nurses by fostering high nursing practice standards to improve patient care. The ANA focuses on priority issues that influence a registered nurse's practice, including the promotion of safe and ethical work environments and the overall health and wellness of the registered nurse. Other key issues the ANA supports include expanding the registered nurse's role and securing federal funds for nurse training.

The ANA establishes a professional code of ethics for nurses and regularly updates the code per healthcare structure. The ANA implemented the Nurses Bill of Rights and several policies to promote and safeguard nurses' rights, including protection from workplace violence and prevention of needlestick injury.

The National League for Nursing (NLN) is a national organization in the United States that promotes excellence in nursing education. They provide membership for nurses, healthcare agencies, and individuals interested in nursing education. The NLN offers professional testing and assessment services for nursing students and educators, networking opportunities, faculty development programs, and research grants. The NLN impacts nursing workforce policies through the support of funding to enhance educational programs that increase the number of nurses and nurse educators in the workforce.

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