Do you have a particular area of nursing you are passionate about? Maybe it’s time for you to carve some time out of your crazy busy schedule to get a specialty board certification.

Obtaining a specialty certification can help your career in several different ways, but it also helps you personally.

Certification validates our specialized knowledge,” says Al Rundio, PhD, DNP, RN, APRN, CARN-AP, NEA-BC, DPNAP, FIAAN, and associate dean for post licensure nursing programs at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions.

As the most trusted profession in the country (reported by Gallup), all nurses with that extra certification are making a statement. Whether it’s a nurse executive or a staff nurse, Rundio says having the specialty board certification is a way to publicly demonstrate that your knowledge is specialized, up-to-date, and officially recognized.

Rundio says he’s passionate about helping nurses get certification because it’s a career and a confidence boost. “It puts them at a higher level,” he says, “and it validates to them that they can do it.”

What holds nurses back? Time, of course, is precious to nurses and often finding extra time for certification is tough. But Rundio also says nerves about passing the certification test also keeps some knowledgeable nurses from even taking it. But often you’re tested on the skills you use every day in your normal course of work. Acknowledging your testing fears might be allayed once you realize that you’ll likely have no problems passing.

Once you receive a board certification, it’s good for several years and you can continue to explore as you look at recertification. Those requirements might be continuing education or they could be something like publishing an article or even becoming active on a professional board.

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Over the years, Rundio has obtained several certifications, some that remain current and some he has let lapse according to his interests and work. Nurses should go for certification in the areas they practice, says Rundio. They are already experienced in the specialty (like addictions or infection control, for example) and getting the certification is just an official recognition of your expertise. “You’re validating what you do,” says Rundio, “but you’re doing this every day.”

And if you’re looking for a job, specialty certification shows you have gone above and beyond expectations and requirements, says Rundio. If an employer is considering two nearly identical candidates, but one has certification and one does not, Rundio says the one who is certified will most likely win out.

If we look at nursing as a profession and not a job, there are certain things we need to do to be professional,” says Rundio.

Getting certification takes time and effort, but the results are well worth it. In the end, you’re making a personal statement about your work and a professional statement about your skills and knowledge.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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