Benefits of Getting Your Nursing Certification

Whether you’re a nursing student or a nurse with more than a decade of experience, it’s important to engage in a variety of professional development activities. Joining professional associations, attending educational events and networking with other medical professionals are all great ways to gain new knowledge and form valuable relationships.

If you’re ready to take your career to the next level, however, don’t miss out on the opportunity to obtain at least one nursing certification. Getting certified shows you’re committed to professional growth and willing to dedicate your time to preparing for difficult certification exams. If you want to qualify for a promotion, ask for a raise or sail through the hiring process at a new organization, learn more about the benefits of certification and find out how to prepare for your first certification exam.

The Career Path of Certified Nurses

For a registered nurse, completing an accredited nursing education program and obtaining a nursing license are the most basic steps involved in building a rewarding career in the medical field. Once you complete your nursing degree, obtaining a specialty certification is a great way to validate your knowledge and skills. According to the AACN, certified nurses also tend to feel more confident in their decision-making, reducing the risk of medical errors and improving the quality of patient care.

Certified nurses tend to make more money than their uncertified peers, making certification one of the best ways to improve your financial position while making a real difference in patients’ lives. In fact, a report from the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses indicates that certified nurses earn significantly more money  than RNs who don’t have any specialized certifications.

Benefits of Nursing Certification for Employers

Hospitals and other health care facilities also benefit from hiring certified nurses. One of the main benefits is improved patient outcomes, which are associated with the validation of specialty knowledge, experience and nursing skills. Hiring certified nurses also contributes to a culture of retention and promotes the idea that the organization values ongoing education and professional development. Because nurses with advanced certifications tend to earn more than their uncertified peers, valuing certification can also help health care facilities attract experienced nurses, easing nursing shortages.

How Certification Affects Patient Outcomes

Patients with advanced diseases live much longer today than they did in the past, which means they need more care. Certified nurses have the knowledge and skills needed to provide acute and critical care to patients of all ages and backgrounds, improving their quality of life and reducing the risk of premature death. Many patients also view certification as a sign of excellence, making them more likely to trust the nurses they encounter at hospitals, medical offices and other health care settings.

Common Nursing Certifications

Nursing Specialty Certifications (American Nurses Credentialing Center)

The ANCC offers specialty certification to experienced nurses interested in advancing their careers. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners who want to expand their roles also have access to interprofessional certifications, including the National Healthcare Disaster Certification. These are just a few of the nursing certification options offered by the ANCC:

  • Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification: The AMB-BC certification exam assesses a nurse’s entry-level skills and clinical knowledge as they relate to ambulatory care.
  • Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification: This specialty certification gives registered nurses an edge when applying for jobs in cardiac nursing, particularly in the cath lab.
  • Gerontological Nursing Certification: The GERO-BC certification exam assesses nursing knowledge and skills related to the care of older adults.
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification: This credential is ideal for nurses who need medical-surgical certification to qualify for better pay.
  • Pediatric Nursing Certification: The PED-BC exam assesses a nurse’s skills and knowledge as they relate to pediatric patient care.
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification: The PMH-BC nursing certification is designed for nurses who plan to work in psychiatric hospitals or work with patients who need psychiatric assessment and treatment.

Nurse Practitioner Certifications (American Nurses Credentialing Center)

The ANCC also offers certifications for nurse practitioners who want to work with specific patient populations. One of the most popular options is the FNP-BC, which is designed for the family nurse practitioner who’s ready to work with patients of all ages. The certification exam covers body systems, drug agents, principles of patient care for specific age groups, assessment, diagnosis and care planning, among other topics. Certifications are also available for NPs in the adult gerontology and mental health nursing specialties.

Oncology Nursing Certification

The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation offers several nursing certifications for nurses who are interested in caring for patients with cancer. Certified nurses typically earn more and have access to better job opportunities than nurses who haven’t taken that extra step to demonstrate their commitment.

Available certification programs include Oncology Certified Nurse, Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse, Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse and Blood & Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse. Each certification covers the knowledge and skills necessary to promote optimal health outcomes and monitor patient safety when working with oncology patients.

Critical Care Certification Programs

Critical care nurses have several options for getting certified, with each nurse certification documenting the specialized knowledge and nursing skills necessary to excel in an ICU or other critical care setting. The AACN offers certifications related to the care of critically ill patients in several age groups, including neonates, adults and senior citizens.

These critical care nursing certifications are for RNs, APRNs, nurse managers, nurse educators and preceptors responsible for overseeing nursing students as they learn new skills and start to understand more about clinical practice. The AACN also offers CCRN-K certifications for nursing administrators, supervisors and other individuals who don’t provide direct patient care.

Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certifications

The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB) offers multiple nursing certification programs aimed at nurses who are interested in career development within the areas of wound care, ostomy care and continence nursing. Available certifications include Wound Treatment Associate, Foot Care and Wound, Ostomy and Continence. These nurse certifications allow nursing professionals to demonstrate their clinical competence and ability to influence positive patient outcomes.

Nursing Certifications for Practical Nurses

After obtaining a nursing certificate, a licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse may want to demonstrate their commitment to the nursing field by obtaining a specialty certification. These are just a few of the examples of certifications available to LPNs and LVNs in the United States:

  • Pharmacology
  • IV therapy
  • Nephrology/dialysis
  • Wound care
  • Hospice care
  • Gerontology

Preparing for Nursing Certification Exams

The requirements for nursing certification depend on the credentialing organization, the type of certification you’re seeking and whether you have a basic or advanced degree in nursing. The first step in getting certified is to contact the appropriate credentialing body and find out what you need to do to qualify to sit for an exam. Some organizations require college transcripts or a minimum number of years of nursing experience.

If you meet the minimum eligibility requirements, the next step is to download all available test prep materials from the credentialing center website. Many organizations, such as the AACN, publish test content outlines and sample questions to help nurses prepare for their certification exams. Review these materials carefully to determine how much time you need to prepare for the exam and identify any potential areas of difficulty.

Take Multiple Practice Tests

It’s important to take multiple practice tests well in advance of your exam date, as these tests can help you master strategies for eliminating wrong answers, avoiding tricky wording and maintaining a good pace during the real exam.

Each time you take a practice test, make sure your test conditions are as close to the real thing as possible. If the exam you’re taking has a time limit of three hours, for example, set a timer for three hours so you can practice answering questions under a time constraint. Take each practice exam in a quiet room without any distractions so you can get used to reading and answering the questions in silence.

Prepare for Your Nursing Certification Today

Obtaining an advanced certification can help you access better-paying employment opportunities and experience personal growth within the nursing field. If you’re ready to show employers you’re committed to providing high-quality care, start preparing for your nursing certification today.

Aceso offers group courses and individual tutoring to nurses at all levels. To sign up for a course or inquire about tutoring, call us at (321) 230-5054.