A: Certification is a formal, regulated process to validate a professional's skill level, knowledge base, and abilities within a designated role. This validation is based on standards set by other professionals in the same specialty. To become certified, you must meet the education requirements, have experience in your chosen area, and pass a qualifying exam. With 183 common nursing certifications and the myriad organizations that sponsor the exams and credentialing process, you may wonder where to begin. Start by choosing to become certified! Let's take a closer look.
According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which develops certification exams, the benefits of certification include meeting employers' increasing needs, protecting customers/consumers, ensuring excellence and standardization, and making a statement of professional engagement and pride. Professionally, you'll benefit from increased knowledge, ongoing development, and exposure to knowledge in your area of expertise. Personally, you'll have a sense of accomplishment. And in many organizations, there may be a financial reward as well. Certification also enhances your career development potential, improving marketability and leverage for professional growth.
According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, “Everyone in the healthcare equation—patients, employers, nurses—benefits from certification as a mark of excellence.” These words were never truer than today as we function in a complex regulatory environment that focuses on value, quality, and outcomes. Value-Based Purchasing is a perfect example of this focus. Our patients, peers, and employers depend on our expertise, commitment, and continuous drive to improve. That's why specialty certification has become a must-have for career success and professional development.
The Magnet Recognition Program® is a prime example of the professional benefits and importance of certification. Achieving Magnet recognition is viewed as the gold standard for nursing recognition and a sign of excellence. The journey to Magnet recognition demonstrates that an organization truly values its nursing professionals down to its structural operations, including specialty certification. Magnet organizations are known for setting the highest standards for safe patient care, promoting both professional and business growth, and fostering a just culture in which staff members feel valued and recognized for their contributions. Organizations may also consider Pathway to Excellence® designation, which has professional development as one of its six standards.
When you become certified, it represents your expertise and commitment to excellence in the nursing profession. Choosing specialty certification isn't only an investment in your professional future, but also a dedication to providing the highest quality care.
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Fights SD. Reap the benefits of certification. Am J Nurs
. 2012;112(1 suppl):10–11.