While not an actual degree, nurse certification in your specialty may make sense
You want to take that next step on your career path and you’re wondering what it should be. You are asking yourself whether the time is right to begin an advanced degree, complete one you started some time ago or perhaps pursue a professional certification. There are many factors to weigh when making your decision. For example, how much time do you have? What finances are available to you? Will you have the personal and professional support you need? Which step ultimately will help you fulfill your career goals?
As you reflect, you may realize you’re not ready to pursue an advanced degree. You know you want to advance your career and learn more about the specialty in which you practice. You are considering moving to another healthcare setting that requires certification as part of the hiring process. You also know that receiving certification proves you have met a national standard, and you want the recognition that certification will bring.
Certification as a form of higher nursing education
The choices in practice and specialty certifications are many and can be overwhelming when considering which one to pursue. Taking the time to think about your career path and where you want to head is essential in the selection process. Besides choosing the specialty or practice area, you need to decide on the credentialing body. For example, nurse practitioners can enroll in certification programs through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board and the National Certification Corporation for obstetric, gynecologic and neonatal nursing specialties.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, offers a broad selection of practice and specialty certifications, and its Magnet Recognition Program recognizes healthcare organizations for nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. When earning Magnet designation, healthcare facilities must demonstrate staff has achieved, or is in the process of achieving, specialty or practice certification.
Nurse.com asked nurse leaders and nurse recruiters to share their experience and insights on the benefits of certification in nursing practice.
According to a 2014 American Hospital Association Certification Center Survey, 86% of respondents indicated certification is a contributing factor when seeking new hires.
Importance of credibility
According to a 2014 American Hospital Association Certification Center survey, 86% of respondents indicated certification is a contributing factor when seeking new hires.
“Earning a certification demonstrates ongoing competency in a specialty and provides professional credibility,” said Maureen Swick, MSN, PhD, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, CEO of AONE, and American Hospital Association senior vice president and CNO. “It demonstrates commitment to lifelong learning and professional development.”
Besides building credibility among nursing and other healthcare colleagues, it’s also about building credibility with patients and families. According to Maria Vezina, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, CNO and vice president of nursing at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City, having a specialty certification distinguishes nurses as an advanced practitioner, thus portraying a more professional, trusted image to those they care for.
Deborah Rowe, MS, RN, PHR, CHCR, vice president, Genesis Staffing Services of Genesis Healthcare, Towson, Md., describes Christine Herbert, a clinical education specialist. Herbert is certified in gerontological nursing (RN-BC), director of nursing administration (CDONA/LTC), resident assessment coordinator (RAC-CT) and professional in healthcare quality (CPHQ). “In her role, these certifications signify her experience and level of expertise with regulatory and professional standards of practice,” said Rowe. “And because she has achieved these certifications, she has the opportunity to receive professional journals, participate in educational conferences and network with other professionals.”
Value of incentives
Many facilities make a concerted effort to remove barriers so nurses feel supported and encouraged to become certified in their specialty. To eliminate the financial burden and fear of failing, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health in Philadelphia participate in the American Nurses Credentialing Center “Success Pays” program, which allows nurses two opportunities to pass the exam, said Mary Marczyk, MSN, RN, CHCR, nurse recruiter. The facility pays the individuals’ fees when they pass.
Acute-care nurses at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital participate in the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board’s FailSafe Certification Program® for Care Coordination and Transition Management. Full-time nurses who are successful in obtaining this certification, which aims to enhance nurse-patient communication, receive a $1,000 bonus.
Employers are willing to pay additional money for certified nurses, and this credential serves as a competitive edge in the job market, especially in Magnet-designated hospitals. “We provide many preparatory classes and pay certification bonuses, and certified nurses maintain required CE credits, and at the same time stay current in their field,” said Marczyk.
At MJHS in New York City, there is an expectation that a nurse will sit for the hospice and palliative care exam after two years of working in this specialty, said Joyce Palmieri, MS, RN, CHPN, board of directors president of the Hospice & Palliative Credentialing Center and vice president of clinical services, MJHS Hospice & Palliative Care. She said that because there is additional compensation for certification, there is improved employee satisfaction that can translate to improved patient experiences. “Studies have shown that certified nurses have a significant impact on patient care and patient safety,” said Palmieri. There are more than 18,000 health professionals currently certified by HPCC.
“Studies have shown that certified nurses have a significant impact on patient care and patient safety.”
A matter of pride
Becoming certified motivates nurses to seek ongoing learning opportunities so they remain current in the evidence-based practice that supports their specialty, said Lee Galuska, PhD, RN, NE-BC, director, Nursing Practice, Education and Research at UCLA Health. Nurse leaders at UCLA Health strongly encourage their nurses to become nationally certified, she said.
“The process validates their clinical expertise, demonstrates a commitment to excellence in nursing practice and provides a source of professional pride,” she said. “Certification provides value to our nurses, the organization and the communities we serve.”
Nursing certification boards by specialty
• Addictions Nursing Certification Board
• American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board
• American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation
• American Association of Diabetes Educators
• American Association of Heart Failure Nurses
• American Board of Managed Care Nursing
• American Board of Neuroscience Nursing
• American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses
• American Board for Occupational Health Nurses
• American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification
• American Correctional Association
• American Hospital Association
• American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation
• American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board
• American Nurses Credentialing Center
• American Organization of Nurse Executives
• Association of Clinical Research Professionals
• Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing
• Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc.
• Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates
• Commission on Nurse Certification
• Competency & Credentialing Institute
• Dermatology Nursing Certification Board
• HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board
• Hospice & Palliative Credentialing Center
• Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation
• International Association of Forensic Nurses
• Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board
• National Alliance of Wound Care
• National Asthma Education Certification Board
• National Association for Healthcare Quality
• National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
• National Board for Certification of School Nurses
• National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators
• National Certification Corporation
• National Certifying Board for Ophthalmic Registered Nurses
• National Certifying Board of Otorhinolaryngology and Head-Neck Nurses
• National Commission on Correctional Health Care
• National League for Nursing
• Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission
• Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
• Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board
• Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
• Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board
• Radiologic Nursing Certification Board, Inc.
• Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board
• The Society of Clinical Research Associates
• Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board
Courses Related to ‘Specialty Certifications’
Adult CCRN/PCCN Certification Review (24 contact hrs)
The Adult CCRN/PCCN Certification Review Focused CE Series is a comprehensive learning experience that provides an extensive review of the adult CCRN and PCCN board certification exam. Learn key critical care concepts and practical application of those concepts from certified experts in the critical care field.
Nursing Informatics Certification Review (20.5 contact hrs)
The Nursing Informatics Certification Review Focused CE Series is a comprehensive learning experience that provides an extensive review of the Nursing Informatics board certification exam. Learn key concepts of NI including design, maintenance and support.
Oncology Nursing Review And Certification Prep (30 contact hrs)
The Oncology Nursing Review and Certification Prep Focused CE Series will provide a targeted review of oncology concepts. This series is intended to help you understand the specifics of this specialty and to prepare you for certification.