Obtaining nursing certifications adds value to a nurse’s overall professional brand as a healthcare expert and clinician over the course of a nurse’s career.
When a nursing student graduates, passes the NCLEX and obtains their license to practice as a nurse, a thriving career unfolds before them like a rich multifaceted path brimming with endless options and potential trajectories.
With so many certifications available to the dedicated nurse, how does one decide which path to take?
Do I Need A Nursing Certification?
Nursing certifications are one of the tools that RNs can use to differentiate themselves from their peers and advance their professional development.
A certifying board issues a nursing certification, which indicates that the nurse has an advanced level of competency in a specific area of healthcare.
Certificates, which are not issued by a professional nursing board and are typically obtained by successfully completing a course offered by a company or organization, should not be confused with certifications.
Certifications almost always necessitate an exam and frequently include additional requirements.
Nurses who have successfully obtained a certification indicate this by affixing the certification’s initials after their signature, along with their other professional post-nominal titles.
Here are a few reasons why nurses obtain nursing certification:
- Nurses pursue and obtain certifications in order to advance their professional opportunities and improve their professional reputations.
- Nursing certifications demonstrate that a nurse possesses extensive knowledge and experience in their clinical specialty.
- This distinguishes them for new positions in that specialty and establishes them as an authoritative source in that field.
Aside from the benefits of career advancement, many nurses pursue specialty certifications for the personal satisfaction and validation of their nursing skills that it provides.
Which Organizations Provide Nursing Certification?
Nursing certifications can be granted by a variety of organizations. You should look for a certifying organization that offers programs that have been accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
The NCCA accreditation demonstrates that the certification programs meet or exceed quality standards.
Because the same certification can be awarded by more than one organization, you can select the institution that works best for you and your employer. These are some of the most well-known organizations that provide a wide range of nursing certifications:
- The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) provides comprehensive certification for acute and critical care registered nurses.
- Emergency Nursing Certification Board (BCEN). BCEN board-certified nurses can excel in areas such as emergency, trauma, and transport nursing.
- The National Certification Corporation (NCC) certifies obstetric, gynecologic, and neonatal nurses, as well as Advanced Practice Neonatal and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners.
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a division of the American Nurses Association, provides internationally recognized credentialing programs that validate and recognize RN expertise in specialty practice areas.
- Perioperative certification is granted by the Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI).
- The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) is a credentialing organization that serves as a resource for aspiring nurses looking to begin, continue, or advance their NP career.
- The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) was the first to offer nationally accredited certification for oncology nurses and other complementary specialties.
What Are The Available Registered Nurse Nursing Certifications
To become a Registered Nurse, you must first earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, which is increasingly becoming the gold standard.
After passing the NCLEX-RN, you will be able to begin your RN career. However, if you want to stand out, pursuing certification in areas of interest to you could be a wise decision.
There are many certifications to choose from once you are a licensed RN, and this is where your ambitions, interests, and future career plans come into play. Among these certifications are:
1. Holistic Nursing Certification
This is a great option for RNs who want to specialize in inpatient care by focusing on the body, mind, and spirit.
2. Nurse Executive Certification
This is an important certification for nurses who want to advance to high-level leadership positions in a healthcare organization. Nurses with a BSN or higher degree are eligible for this type of certification. It may even be a prerequisite for obtaining executive positions.
3. Nursing Informatics Certification
This is an excellent option for RNs who are interested in technology and want to help bridge the gap between the nursing and IT worlds. This BSN certification demonstrates a high level of informatics competency, a skill that is increasingly in demand in an increasingly digital society.
What Are The Best Nursing Certifications?
Each nurse must determine which nursing certification is best for them. Certifications demonstrate a high level of clinical knowledge and experience in a specific field, and the certification that is best for a specific nurse is highly dependent on that nurse’s desired area of practice and career goals.
While each nurse has different career goals and practice preferences, there are some nursing certifications that stand out due to the fields they cover and the experience and knowledge they represent.
The certifications listed below have been shown to help nurses advance in their careers, both in terms of higher earnings and the likelihood of moving into new roles.
- Nurse Manager & Leader Certification (CNML)
- Registered Nurse in Critical Care (CCRN)
- Emergency Nurse Certification (CEN)
- Pediatric Registered Nurse (CPN)
- Certified Oncology Nurse (OCN)
- Core Trauma Nursing Course (TNCC)
- Palliative care/hospice care
1. Nurse Manager & Leader Certification (CNML)
The Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) certification denote a high level of clinical knowledge and nursing leadership experience.
The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses offer this credential (AACN).
A nurse must pass the CNML examination and be an RN with two to five years of experience as a nurse manager, depending on their level of nursing and other professional education, to be eligible for this certification.
Because leadership is such an important aspect of nursing, many nurses regard this as one of the best nursing certifications available.
2. Registered Nurse in Critical Care (CCRN)
The American Association of Critical Care Nurses offers the CCRN certification as a professional credential (AACN).
Obtaining the CCRN certification requires passing a critical care nursing examination as well as having a certain amount of experience caring for acutely or critically ill patients.
The experience requirements are either 1750 hours in the last two years or 2000 hours in the last five years, with certain minimums in the year preceding application.
Critical care nursing is widely regarded as the field requiring the most clinical knowledge in nursing, and nurses who have earned this certification are thought to be among the most knowledgeable nurses in the profession.
3. Emergency Nurse Certification (CEN)
The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) awards the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential, which demonstrates a high level of clinical knowledge and experience in emergency nursing.
Obtaining the CEN certification necessitates passing an exam.
Although there is no minimum number of clinical hours required to take this exam, the BCEN strongly recommends at least two years of emergency nursing experience and warns that those with less experience are unlikely to pass.
While critical care nursing necessitates a thorough understanding of complex diseases, emergency nursing necessitates a broad understanding of many diseases.
Emergency nursing is regarded as one of the most difficult nursing specialties, and certification in this field is highly sought after.
4. Pediatric Registered Nurse (CPN)
The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) administers the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) certification, which denotes a high level of experience in pediatric nursing.
To obtain the CPN credential, you must pass an examination and have either 1800 hours of pediatric nursing experience within the last two years or 3000 hours of experience, with at least 10000 hours being within the last two years.
Pediatric nursing necessitates a high level of specialized knowledge that is applicable to a wide range of patients.
Because the CPN can be applied to pediatric populations in a variety of nursing fields, it is regarded as one of the more important nursing certifications.
5. Certified Oncology Nurse (OCN)
The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation offers the Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) credential (ONCC).
This certification demonstrates that the nurse has advanced clinical knowledge in oncology.
To obtain this certification, you must pass an exam and have at least two years of experience as an RN, 2000 hours of adult oncology practice in the last four years.
And 10 contact hours of continuing nursing education in oncology or an academic elective in oncology nursing in the last three years.
Because oncology is such a specialized and difficult field of nursing, and this certification has so many requirements, it is one of the more desirable certifications that a nurse can obtain.
Nursing certifications, regardless of the area in which you choose to become certified, affirm and validate a nurse’s competence and expertise, and are one way to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for career advancement as an RN.
6. Core Trauma Nursing Course (TNCC)
The TNCC certification is another certification that demonstrates to potential employers that the nurse candidate is a professional who is truly invested in quality patient care, nursing skill development, and career potential for nurses who are employed — or seeking employment — in trauma care.
TNCC, the 8th Edition, prepares emergency nurses for life-threatening trauma cases when every second counts,” according to the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA).
The course will provide you with the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and training you need to provide high-quality trauma nursing care.”
7. Palliative care/hospice care
Another area of nursing where Certified Nurses have an advantage is hospice/ palliative care. Hospice nursing is a highly specialized field that necessitates additional training beyond that required for general nursing.
RNs in this role care for terminally ill patients and their families. Because it is such a sensitive and specialized role, RNs require special training to identify the patient’s needs and accommodate them as quickly as possible.
Certification validates nurses’ high level of competency, providing additional assurance that the terminally ill will receive the best possible care in their final moments.
Currently, the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center is the only nationally recognized institution that offers RN Certification in this specific area of nursing (HPCC).
The eligibility criteria differ depending on the level of nursing. As an RN seeking this certification, for example, you must have a current, unrestricted nursing license as well as 500 hours of hospice and palliative nursing practice in the last 12 months or 1,000 hours in the last year.
The same rules apply to Licensed Practical Nurses – the only difference is that they must have a current Practical Licence, which they can obtain after passing the NCLEX-PN exam.
8. Adult Gerontology Primary & Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (Adult-Gerontology NPs) are advanced practice providers who work with patients from early adulthood through their senior years. Many adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNPs) serve as a patient’s sole primary care provider, caring for them throughout their adult lives. Establishing and maintaining a long-term provider-patient relationship can be immensely beneficial since it fosters trust and improves healthcare compliance.
In order to pursue this specialty, NPs must complete a specialist track in school that focuses on adult-gerontology patients. A post-graduate certificate degree, as well as an MSN or DNP program, can be used to fulfill this specialization route.
9. Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC)
Cardiac nurses and heart catheterization nurses are experts in cardiac care and procedural treatments for patients suffering from a variety of cardiovascular disorders. They collaborate closely with cardiologists and the rest of the interdisciplinary team to ensure that appropriate care is provided quickly and securely.
Obtaining a cardiac vascular nursing certification goes on to demonstrate a high level of competence in the field of cardiovascular care, which helps provide high-quality care to patients and establish trust as well.
Other Nursing Certifications
Here is a list of other nursing certifications you can obtain:
- Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification (RN-BC)
- Care Coordination & Transition Management Certification (CCCTN)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult-Gerontology (AGCNS-BC)
- Critical Care Nursing Certification (CCRN)
- Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP-C)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC or FNP-C)
- Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification (CMSRN)
- Neonatal Nursing Certification (RNC-NIC)
- Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC)
- Nursing Informatics Certification (RN-BC)
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing Certification (RN-BC)
- Public Health Nursing Certification (APHN)
- School Nursing Certification (NCSN)
- Wound Care Nursing Certification (CWCN)
There are numerous and compelling reasons to pursue nursing certification. Despite the fact that there is a clear and pressing nursing shortage, nurses must compete for the same job. Certifications will give you an unmistakable advantage in this competition. They will also be useful if you are looking for a promotion, changing careers, or simply becoming the best nurse you can be.
Certifications take your skill, knowledge, and expertise in your chosen field to the next level. They are an investment in your future while also benefiting the entire healthcare system. It’s time to make a name for yourself and become a registered nurse.
- allnursingschools.com – Nursing Certifications for Popular Specialties
- registerednursing.org – What Are Nursing Certifications?
- edumed.org – Top 5 Nursing Certifications to Advance Your RN Career
- nursingce.com – The Best Nursing Certifications – Which Do You Want on Your
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