Top Reasons for Achieving Nursing Certifications

Nurses achieve certification to validate their skills and demonstrate their commitment to excellent patient care. Here are the top reasons for achieving nursing certifications.
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After working long hours and gaining years of experience in our specialty, getting certified is a professional goal for many nurses. As nurses, we strive to achieve certification to validate our skills and demonstrate our commitment to excellent patient care. Many national nursing organizations, such as ANCC and specialty organizations like the Board of Certification For Emergency Nursing and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, offer nursing certifications.

Popular Nursing Certifications and Their Credentials

  • RN-BC: Registered Nurse-Board Certified. Several certifications use these credentials, such as cardiovascular nursing, gerontological nursing, medical-surgical nursing, and nursing case management, among many more.
  • CCRN: Critical Care Registered Nurse
  • CEN: Certified Emergency Nurse
  • NE-BC, NEA-BC: Nurse Executive-Board Certified, Nurse Executive 
Advanced-Board Certified
  • NPD-BC: Nursing Professional Development-Board Certified
  • OCN: Oncology Certified Nurse
  • CDE: Certified Diabetes Educator
  • RNC-OB: Inpatient Obstetric Nurse
  • SANE-A, SANE-P: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult or Pediatric

Table of Contents

Achieving certification isn’t just about adding credentials to our names. There are multiple reasons to strive for certification, both personal and professional. Becoming certified is a personal decision for all nurses, but our patients and employers reap the benefits, too.

Validating Expertise

Achieving certification is an excellent way for us as nurses to validate our knowledge and years of experience. Being certified is a significant confidence booster and can improve our professional satisfaction. Certification can also increase our patient’s confidence in us. Surveys have shown that patients and their families understand the value of nursing certifications and prefer to receive care from organizations with certified nurses. Holding a certification also demonstrates to patients and colleagues that we are practicing with the highest level of expertise. By having a certification (or more than one!), we gain credibility in our field and support our organizations’ professional reputation.

Increased Marketability

Being certified increases marketability for nurses because it not only validates our skills but it demonstrates our commitment to our profession. Many certifications require continuing education to maintain the certification. This helps us maintain ongoing competency, which is highly valued by employers. Hospitals that have achieved ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® status seek nurses who have achieved certification as part of their commitment to nursing excellence. Employers want to hire nurses who are experts in their specialty, and certification provides a way for us to communicate our value to potential employers.

Improved Patient Care

Research continues to show the impact of certified staff nurses on patient care and outcomes. Nurses who are certified have achieved a certain level of knowledge and skill in their respective areas, and this expertise often translates to better patient care. A critical aspect of nursing is clinical judgment, something that nursing certification exams assess for. With strong judgment and experience, we make better, safer decisions when caring for patients leading to improved outcomes and lower error rates.

Commitment to Lifelong Learning

Obtaining the knowledge to become certified in a nursing specialty doesn’t happen overnight. Nurses work for several years to become eligible for the exams and spend countless hours studying and preparing. A few months ago, I became eligible to sit for the certification exam in my specialty, nursing professional development. It is exciting to know I can soon take the exam and add those letters to my name, but the learning doesn’t stop there. Once we become certified, we must maintain competence in our area of expertise with specialized professional development. Committing to being a lifelong learner is an essential part of being a professional, certified nurse. Completing targeted continuing education that aligns with our certification is just one way we can grow and support our own professional development.
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Increased Pay

As an incentive, many healthcare organizations offer bonuses or increased pay to nurses who become certified. While this pay increase may not be the primary motivation for you to get certified, it is a bonus for those nurses who have achieved this honor. Some organizations also offer reimbursement for nurses who take and pass certification exams, making it easier for nurses to meet their goals.

The Honor of Certification

Being certified is not only a measure of success for nurses, but it is a vote of confidence among patients and employers. While certification may lead to increased pay or new job opportunities, many of us agree that being certified is first and foremost a professional honor, one that is worth the hard work it took to achieve. After spending countless hours providing high-quality care, becoming certified is a popular choice for nurses prepared to validate our expertise.

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