In the world of nursing, certifications and their corresponding designations carry with them the concepts of excellence, professionalism, and focused dedication to career growth. Not all nurses pursue certification during their years of service in healthcare, but many hear the call and take inspired action to achieve such a goal.nursing-certification-achieving-excellence-and-professionalism

Making an effort to become certified in your nursing specialty is like doubling down on your skills and knowledge. Doing this takes discipline and forward-thinking, demonstrating that you care enough to show the world that nursing excellence and professional mastery matter.

Every year on March 19th, we celebrate National Certified Nurses Day to honor the nurses who take their careers to the next level by becoming certified. This celebration encourages us to take a moment to acknowledge the role that certification plays in strengthening the nursing profession while improving care and patient outcomes. Being certified is meaningful, and we make meaning by pausing for the cause of reflection and recognition of the nurses who choose this path.

Nursing Certification 101

According to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), the first nursing certification was issued in 1945 to recognize nurse anesthetists. Certification boards began to be created in the 1960s, and the number of available nursing certifications continues to grow to this day.

Many nurses choose to pursue certification of their own volition, while some employers may encourage or even require nurses in specific specialty areas to become certified. Having your employer pay for and support your certification goals can be a desirable benefit, especially if your certification process has a financial cost you’d rather not bear yourself.

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The American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers various certification pathways, as do the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC), the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB), and numerous other nursing organizations and associations.

A 2021 Journal of Nursing Administration study states, “Nurse specialty certification is ’a mechanism for validation or formal recognition by documenting individual nurses’ knowledge, skills, and abilities specific to their specialty’. It is a form of individual credentialing above and beyond entry-level education and licensing. By pursuing specialty certification, nurses exhibit a commitment to professional growth and lifelong learning while establishing competency in a specialized area of care such as oncology or medical-surgical nursing. The intended outcome of certification in nursing is to improve safety, quality of care, and health outcomes for those using healthcare services.”

Popular certifications include:

No matter what certification you choose to pursue, rest assured that being certified is something to be proud of and to clearly and proudly document on your resume as a mark of nursing distinction and professional mastery.

Why Should You Consider Becoming a Certified Nurse

As mentioned above, certification is a demonstration of dedication to your area of specialty nursing practice. Being certified can serve many purposes and brings with it a variety of benefits, including:

  • Marketability: Being certified can make you a stronger candidate in the job market, especially if it sets you apart from non-certified applicants for the same positions.
  • Career mobility: Some employers may value nursing certifications very highly, with certified nurses more likely to advance on the organization’s clinical ladder or into positions of greater responsibility, including nursing leadership.
  • Respect and recognition: Certification can elicit in others a sense of respect for and recognition of your professionalism, expert knowledge, and skill.
  • Personal/professional pride: Certification may elicit pride in your expertise, mastery, and accomplishments as a dedicated nurse.
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Certification is a feather in your nurse’s cap. It marks you as a nurse focused on career growth and expert skill and knowledge. By being certified, you benefit not only your career but also inspire others to follow in your footsteps and contribute to the improved quality of patient care, not to mention strengthen your employer’s organizational profile.

Certification Speaks Volumes

Having one or more nursing certifications speaks volumes about your professionalism and desire to develop yourself as a nurse of integrity and mastery. Being certified says a great deal about you, and your certifications can enhance your ability to advance your career in any direction you’d like to go.

Some nurses may sit on their laurels and do the bare minimum, while others may seize the day and take every opportunity to develop themselves professionally. Only you can decide if the path to certification is right for you based on your perception of the benefits of certification and the value of that process to your career.

In recognition of Certified Nurses Day, let’s acknowledge those nurses who’ve stepped up to the plate and taken on certification as a prospect worthy of their attention and hard work. And if you’re already certified, give yourself a pat on the back for going the extra mile and showing the world that you’re a nurse who wants to be the best you can be.

Keith Carlson
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