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Careers in Healthcare

Why Certifying as a Nurse Can Improve Your Community, Healthcare, and Your Career

In today’s increasingly complex healthcare environment, the demand for well-informed, skilled nursing professionals is higher than ever. 

Success in nursing practice now often means going beyond in-service seminars and mandatory advanced education. A commitment to lifelong learning is essential. So essential, in fact, that in its landmark 2010 report, “The Future of Nursing:Leading Change, Advancing Health,” the National Academy of Medicine (then called the Institute of Medicine) advocated lifelong learning as a key strategy to ensure nurses take a leadership role in meeting the nation’s current and future healthcare needs. 

A gateway to education

Certification is an important mechanism to promote and foster that lifelong learning. It ensures nurses not only maintain competence but also obtain additional, essential skills to keep pace with rising patient acuity, new regulatory requirements, safety imperatives, and growing competition. 

By pursing a certification, a nurse is deciding to aid their career through increased pay, recognition, and leadership opportunities. Simply put, at an individual level, certification brings value to every nurse’s career.

The evolution of certification

As nursing has grown, so, too, has certification. Since the inception of nurse certification programs in the early 1970s, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) — one of the organizations that provides certification — now offers first-time certification in 18 different specialties, with an additional 31 available through renewal. Nurses can earn certifications in a variety of areas; from gerontology to informatics, reflecting the rise of specialization in healthcare. 

Obtaining a certification in an emerging specialty, like the National Healthcare Disaster Certification offered by ANCC — the ANA Enterprise’s credentialing body — signals to all clinicians, patients, and employers that a nurse possesses a reliable level of specialty knowledge. Specifically, the National Healthcare Disaster Certification is designed to meet the increased demand for inter-professional collaboration in healthcare. 

By earning this certification, healthcare professionals are providing a valid and reliable assessment of their knowledge and ability to cooperatively promote successful outcomes for the public during a disaster. This same appetite for collaboration has also created a wealth of career opportunities for certified nurses. Certified nurses are more likely than ever to serve as content experts, give presentations, and publish journal articles.

Improving the patient experience

Beyond the personal benefits, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests certified nurses contribute to increased patient satisfaction and safety. Employers, patients, and colleagues recognize certification as a true gauge of a nurse’s ability to provide excellent care. 

Certified nurses are experts in their specialties and set the standard for quality in clinical practice and patient outcomes. Certified nurses know they are fostering cultures of excellence, working toward improved patient outcomes, and delivering high quality care to those under their watch.

To a nurse, certification is ultimately about more than improving their professional standing — it is about serving their community to the best of their ability. 

Debbie O’Cathey, R.N.-B.C., a multi-specialty acute care nurse puts it best: “Being certified allows me to care for members of our community, the same people we see in the grocery store and out on the street, with confidence and expertise knowing they are receiving the best possible care.”

Erika A. Borlie, D.N.P., M.S., B.S.N., W.H.N.P.-B.C., R.N.-C., Certification Outreach Manager, American Nurses Credentialing Center, [email protected]

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