Nursing Certification: Why is it important?

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Nursing Certification

For nurses with a passion for a specific area of health care — geriatric care or oncology, for example — there is the option to study for certification in that discipline, explained Jennifer Ward in Nurse Together. Certification is available from various organizations, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and involves studying for and passing an examination. While becoming certified is only mandatory in certain cases to practice as a nurse, noted Lanette Anderson in Nurse Together, there are a number of reasons why opting to become certified is a beneficial step for nursing professionals looking to grow their career.

A closer look at the certification process

As detailed in an article published by Medscape , nurses achieve certification when they are able to demonstrate that their skills and expertise in a certain area of patient care meet the standards established by the certifying body. According to Sandra D. Fight, MS, RN, in an article for the American Journal of Nursing, credentials for certification vary, contingent on the certifying agency and the type of certification being sought. Fight offered the example of the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which has varying guidelines as to the qualifications needed to apply to certain programs. A bachelor’s degree may be necessary in some cases, as well as the successful completion of a certain number of clinical hours in the desired specialty for certification.

An example of these requirements is the Acute/Critical Care Nursing Certification course from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, which concerns the care of critically ill adult patients. Nurses interested in applying for this certification must complete a prescribed number of clinical hours in care for the acutely ill over a certain number of years — either two or five. Even then, certification is not bestowed until the nurse successfully completes an examination, Fight explained.

To become certified, nurses are required to study for and pass an examination.

What are the benefits of certification?

Certification may lead to several benefits for both nurses and their patients, including the following:

  1. Certification displays professional dedication
    Given that nursing certification is not compulsory, when professionals opt to study for a certification examination, they demonstrate a high level of professional commitment and a desire to provide outstanding patient care, Ward stated. This dedication is attractive to employers looking for nursing professionals with strong work ethic and a comprehensive education in their chosen specialty. An article from Medscape reported on a study of attitudes toward certification within the nursing profession. The survey was conducted by the American Board of Nursing Specialties and involved in excess of 11,000 nursing professionals. An overwhelming majority — some 90 percent — of respondents stated that certification is beneficial for signifying a nurse’s aptitude and proficiency in his or her chosen area, which, in turn, improves his or her credibility in employers’ eyes.
  2. Patients prefer nurses with certification
    According to a fact sheet published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the fact that nurses can specialize in certain areas of medical practice and then become certified is a surprisingly well-known fact among the general public. Some 78 percent of survey participants demonstrated an awareness of this reality in a Harris Poll, the AACCN reported. Given the high awareness of certification, it is a logical corollary that patients will prefer care from a nursing staff with certification. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses article supports this assertion, noting that a notable majority of Americans — around 73 percent — prefer institutions where certification levels are high among nursing staff. The respondents said they would be more inclined to go to these organizations for health care, especially if given a choice.
  3. Patient tend to have better outcomes
    Nurses with certification are more adept at providing quality care, which leads to a higher rate of positive patient outcomes. As reported by Ward, studies have indicated that when certified nurses care for patients, the patients tend to experience better outcomes than those who do not receive care from certified providers.
  4. Nurses have more career opportunities
    An article published by Medscape reported on a survey of nurse managers regarding hiring attitudes toward nursing staff with certification. Participants were asked who they would hire if they had a choice: a nurse with certification or without? A vast majority of respondents — some 86 percent — chose the former, crediting a stronger work ethic and more extensive and nuanced knowledge typically possessed by candidates with certification.

Consider Bradley University

In addition to becoming certified, another way that nurses can progress their careers is by studying to become a family nurse practitioner. One effective way to do this, while balancing a career and familial commitments, is to study online through Bradley University’s online MSN-FNP program. Those nurses eager to learn more are encouraged to begin the application process today.