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The benefits of certification can include “greater career success and satisfaction including higher pay, greater opportunity for advancement, and higher employability as well as higher self-efficacy,” according to a report by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nurses (BCEN). In sum, says BCEN executive director Janie Schumaker, “Certification instills confidence, boosts engagement and ownership, and enhances collaboration and communication, all of which contribute to better, safer care.”

The BCEN paper points to studies that indicate certified nurses tend to raise the level of patient care. Certification researcher Diane K. Boyle, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor at the University of Wyoming’s Whitney School of Nursing, comments, “Research-based evidence shows that there is a link between certified nursing practice and better patient outcomes and increased patient satisfaction. We also have beginning evidence that the higher the proportion of certified nurses there is on a unit, the better the outcomes.” By studying for certification, explains Marianne Horahan, of the American Nurses Credentialing Center, “Nurses fill in knowledge gaps as they study the entire body of knowledge for their specialty… The employer benefits by having nurses on staff who are up to date on the latest in their specialty practice.”

The BCEN report found widespread support for the certification of emergency nurses within the profession itself and among physicians. In the largest study to date, 92% of emergency nurse supervisors stated that it was important to have Certified Emergency Nurses (CENs) in their institution and that overall, CENs were preferred for their clinical expertise, technical performance, accuracy, safety and ethics. Often, hospitals support certification by offering an honorarium. In Illinois, for example, the emergency physicians at Edward-Elmhurst Health established an honorarium program for board certified RNs in 2006, with nurses receiving $1,000 for initial certification and $500 when they recertify. The hospital’s Emergency Services Chair, Dr. Tom Scaletta, calls the cash rewards “A small investment when you look at the improved relationships, improved patient safety and the message of appreciation we’re sending. It is worth every penny when it comes to ensuring nurses have the knowledge to care for our patients.” And, high-quality care is of course the ultimate goal. With a board certified nurse, says Richard E. Hawkins, the president and CEO of the American Board of Medical Specialties, “Patients can be confident that those treating them have the skills and knowledge… and are uniquely qualified to provide the best care possible.”

For information on how to obtain certification, visit the BCEN site or see Nurses Get Certified.

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