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Nursing Certification - How Can it Boost Your Career?

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC - 03/18/19

Becoming certified in your chosen nursing specialty has many benefits for your career, your employer, as well as patient safety and outcomes. Certification is affirmation of expertise and specialized knowledge, and this has far-reaching positive repercussions for the profession as a whole. 

Certification: A Stake in the Ground 

When you choose to advance in your particular area of clinical focus, certification can be a powerful path to greater success, income, recognition of your expertise, and career advancement.

Seeking certification in an area of nursing that lights you up means that you are essentially putting a stake in the ground in relation to your professional standing and credibility. Going through the process of achieving a certification can be rigorous, and doing so is itself a clear demonstration of your motivation to move forward in your nursing career.

Certification provides you with the information, knowledge, and/or skill to move from competency to expert. Other positive consequences of being certified may include increased self-confidence, stronger decision-making skills, as well as enhanced standing within the larger healthcare team.

Achieving a specialty nursing certification can provide opportunities to advance towards promotion and leadership. It also provides expert knowledge that will allow you to mentor others who wish to rise to your level of knowledge and skill. A nurse’s marketability within the healthcare job marketplace is definitely strengthened by positioning certifications prominently on resumes and in cover letters.  

Other Benefits of Certification

Within any healthcare team, nurses are often the clinicians with the least level of education, even though they may already have significant expertise. Aside from earning a DNP, NP, or PhD, certification can provide the nurse a boost of respect and recognition in the eyes of other professionals.  

The nursing profession is itself advanced when more nurses become certified, in that it is a clear signal to those outside of the profession that nurses take their career advancement seriously. We can also surmise that some peer pressure within an institution, team, unit, or the entire profession will cause more nurses to seek certification in order to maintain parity with their certified peers. 

For healthcare facilities, more certified nurses can lead to improved healthcare outcomes. It can also provide a sense that proficiency and advanced knowledge are highly valued within the workplace culture. Additionally, a higher percentage of certified nurses can give a facility an economic boost over their competitors due to the widespread respect for certification and the understanding the certified nurses can provide more targeted, evidence-based care. For this and other reasons, some institutions may go so far as to pay for their nurses to be undergo certification.

According to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, higher acuity and a more complex healthcare milieu lend themselves to nurses certifying in order to keep up with the constant changes within their area of specialty. In that regard, the need for periodic recertification provides some assurance that certified nurses will receive updated evidence-based instruction over the years as both treatment options and the clinical knowledge base expand.  

Certification as a Vehicle for Quality

For individual nurses, certification is certainly a path towards improved quality of patient care, increased nurse self-confidence, professional standing, and marketability. Job satisfaction is a crucial part of longevity in a specific position, and being recognized for efforts towards certification can amount to anything from promotion to increased earning potential.

Quality is everything in healthcare; in fact, without a commitment to quality, patient care can go downhill quickly. Institutions who want to rise to the top can assure that they have more certified nurses on staff as proof positive of a commitment to high-quality care and successful patient outcomes.

With more individual and collective commitment to an increased number of nurses earning certifications, the profession will continue to flourish, and the benefits described above will serve to affirm certification’s priority. With a will to succeed and an ongoing quest for increased professionalism, certification is one path for both nurses and their employers continue to explore.