Making a case for nurse certification

By | 2022-09-22T11:13:53-04:00 August 17th, 2017|Tags: , |9 Comments

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. 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.


Discover how can help you find your next dream job.
Just sign up and wait to be paired with your perfect match.

About the Author:

Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN
Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN, is director of the Help & Resource Center at The Marfan Foundation. Also a nursing educator, she has held faculty positions at Wagner College, Skidmore College, Molloy College and Adelphi University. She is a member of the New York Organization of Nurse Leders and the Greater New York Nassau-Suffolk Organization of Nurse Executives.


  1. Avatar
    Michelle Karns August 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Please note: Nurse practitioners can enroll in certification programs through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board… etc. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners merged with the American College of Nurse Practitioners on January 1, 2013, to form the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Thank you.

  2. Avatar
    Jodie Mix August 24, 2017 at 4:25 am - Reply

    What about CNOR? I didn’t see that on the list.

    • Avatar
      Kristen Edmunds September 12, 2017 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      The Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI) listed is the provider of the CNOR certification.

  3. Avatar
    Pam Bartley September 3, 2017 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    I would love to refer to this post in an upcoming lecture, “Let’s Get Certified”. Would you email me a PDF?

  4. Avatar
    Joni Morris April 2, 2019 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    I would like to refer this post in an upcoming lecture. Would you email me a PDF? Thank you.

    • Heather Cygan
      Heather Cygan April 4, 2019 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Joni, We do not have a PDF of this article. It’s only an online article.

  5. Avatar
    Annette B Wesolowski April 7, 2019 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    I was certifed as a childbirth educator early in my career and loved the ongoing support of conferences and connections. I am currently certified as a Parish or Faith Community Nurse and need the encouragement and stimulation of others in this field to keep encouraged. My last 7 years were in endocrinology and I debated Diabetic Case Management certification. It was quite expensive and I was approaching retirement. The doctors and other nurses I worked with were amazing educators and I became pretty skilled at helping those with high and low blood sugars over the years. My job was advice for the entire spectrum of endocrinology and I never found a certification for that field. Retired from working after 7 years there, would have done a general certificate for that complex field if one had been available. I felt more competent in the certified fields.

  6. Avatar
    Amar K. Dhaliwal June 24, 2020 at 1:29 am - Reply

    How can nurses display ANNC credit certifications on their resume?

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez June 29, 2020 at 9:54 am - Reply

      Hello Amar,

      According to the ANCC website – – many certifications are displayed by listing “-BC” after the specific certification, such as FNP-BC for Family Nurse Practitioner Certification. On a resume you can probably list your certification following your degrees and “RN,” after your name, as well as in a separate section for educational accomplishments. Thank you for your question.

Leave A Comment