In the past 19 years, more than 250,000 nurses have become certified. Like board certification for a physician, certification gives a nurse professional recognition. It proves that the nurse has met stringent professional requirements and demonstrates professional competency in a specialty.
Certification benefits nurses, healthcare facilities and healthcare consumers.
For the healthcare facility, certified nurses can help decrease hospital insurance premium costs and increase patient satisfaction. And they can be marketed as a benefit to healthcare consumers. Certified nurses assure patients that the facility’s ED is staffed by highly competent nurses with up-to-date knowledge and skills. This all translates to a belief in the nurses’ abilities and the institution’s credibility.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has identified eight positive outcomes of nurse credentialing:
- Professional recognition. Certification validates a respected level of specialty knowledge.
- Personal satisfaction. Certification offers highly motivated nurses personal satisfaction in their abilities.
- Career advancement. Increasingly, certification has become a basis for career advancement. Nurse managers often choose a certified nurse over a candidate who is not certified when both have similar skills. In 2002, a survey by the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) found that nearly 90% of nurse managers prefer hiring certified nurses rather than noncertified ones. In the survey, 58% of nurse managers reported a positive performance difference among certified nurses.
- Professional opportunities. Certified nurses have more opportunities to network and participate in professional events, such as expert panels, workshops and studies sponsored by professional organizations.
- Competency assessment. Because certification exams evaluate the knowledge and skills necessary for competent practice in a nursing specialty, gaining certification proves that the nurse has met a national standard, which, in turn, can help with facility accreditation. Additionally, some state nursing boards have begun to recognize certification as evidence of competence for license renewal.
- Licensure. Certification is required for advanced practice nurses to obtain authority to practice and prescribe in most states.
- Reimbursement. For advanced practice nurses, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires certification for reimbursement, as do some insurance companies.
- Increased salary. A certified nurse can earn an average of $9,000 more annually than a noncertified counterpart.
Of course, obtaining accreditation isn’t easy.
Preparation is key. One way to prepare is by completing an online certification review program, such as those offered in Mosby’s Nursing Suite.
According to Cindy Tryniszewski, Executive Director, Clinical e-Learning at Elsevier | MC Strategies, the courses “provide healthcare organizations with targeted lessons to help nurses prepare for the exam and successfully become certified. With hospital budgets shrinking in today’s economy, online learning can help reduce some of the costs of certification preparation, such as tuition, travel expenses and review materials. Plus, it can provide a certification review opportunity for any nurse on staff.”