Nurses go through years of hands-on training and academic courses to become a nurse and then excel at their profession. And when nurses find a nursing specialty that is especially rewarding to them, becoming certified is the next step for highly motivated "Exam" button for certification

On today’s Certified Nurses Day, nurses who take on additional work to become certified in their specialty are honored for their pursuit of excellence.

As a nurse, certification is a signal to your professional community and to your community of patients that you have done all you can to achieve the latest knowledge. That means a nurse’s training and understanding of the most recent evidence-based practices is current.

Making the decision to become certified and then taking the actual steps to make that happen requires both dedication and focus. Nurses generally must complete a certain amount of hours within a specialty before sitting for the certification exam. That process helps give them a solid foundation of the skills and processes needed to specialize in their chosen area. But the time spent working in one area also helps nurses decide if that is the path that is right for their career goals and professional aspirations.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a wealth of resources and various certification exams for nurses. A nurse certified in a particular specialty is one who wants to have all the tools possible to provide the highest standard of patient care. And certification isn’t limited to one area. For instance, specialty certified emergency, trauma, transport, and burn nurses often take the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing’s  Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam, and they might also want to consider the Certified Burn Registered Nurse (CBRN) or the Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN) as well. No matter what area a nurse works in, taking the time and effort to earn a certification is noticed, and even sometimes celebrated, within the organization where they work. Certified nurses often are seen as experts in their areas and so are excellent resources for their teams and also mentors to other nurses.

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Some nurses say the fear of failure keeps them from taking a certification exam. But from the perspective of many certified nurses, the information on the exam is information that is part of their daily work responsibilities already. That doesn’t mean exam preparation and studying isn’t necessary, but it does mean that many nurses find they are familiar with the information that they will be tested on.

Combined with preparing for the exam, that existing professional knowledge boosts their chances of success. And if fear of failure is a real roadblock, nurses don’t have to tell anyone that they are taking the exam. Their organization won’t know they are taking it, so if they don’t pass on the first try, it won’t be noticed at work. And if the first try doesn’t go as planned, taking the exam again is worthwhile. Having that additional understanding and the certification to show your dedication to nursing knowledge and process is a significant professional achievement.

Today’s Certified Nurses Day honors all the hard work nurses do to provide top-notch care and also to signal their commitment to the nursing profession as a whole.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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