In honor of Certified Nurses Day, we reached out to nurses who have earned certification to find out why they love being certified.
As you’ll see their answers are varied: some are glad to have the additional knowledge, some are proud of the accomplishment, and some like being able to have varied skills to help support patients and the nursing field as a whole.
What follow are just some of the quotes that we received. Some were edited, but only for length and/or clarity—we didn’t change the ideas expressed.
“Being certified in rehabilitation nursing benefits our patients and families with a documented level of knowledge and shows our commitment to patient care. It also benefits our coworkers as they have a mentor who can advise and support them with their patients and families.”
—Barbara Hennigan, BSN, RN, CRRN; Nurse Manager, Comprehensive Medical Rehabilitation Unit; University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute
“Certification opened doors for me by allowing my supervisors to trust me enough to teach competencies and mentor new nurses. My supervisors trusted my nursing and clinical judgment enough for me to become a valued resource on our cardiac unit. Certification allowed me the opportunity to climb our clinical nurse ladder, which also provided an additional monetary component.”
—Kendra Armstrong, MSN, RN, ACNPC-AG, PCCN; acute care nurse practitioner; Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital; Albany, Georgia (Provided by AACN.)
“Nursing certification helps me provide the highest level of care to patients during some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives. Knowing that my certification provided me the skill set and knowledge to have meaningful effects on people’s lives is both rewarding and humbling.”
—Shentelle Parker, RN, BSN, TNCC; ICU Nurse; Southeast Louisiana Veterans Care System
“Certification offers me a sense of personal accomplishment and validates my knowledge, skills, and clinical judgment in my specialty area.”
—Robin Colchagoff, MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM; Director, Clinical Nursing Practice; University of Maryland Capital Region Health
“Becoming a certified nurse affirmed my nursing knowledge within my specialty of practice, Critical Care. Since becoming certified, I have joined my professional organization and have an easier time staying up to date with new evidenced-based practices by reading publications distributed by AACN. I have also encouraged many of my peers to pursue certifications in their specialties, too. I proudly wear my “Nationally Certified RN” badge as a reminder of my dedication to provide the best possible care I can to Every Patient, Every Encounter, Every day!”
—Tracy Kline, MSN, RN, PCCN; Direct Care Nurse, Intermediate Care Unit; University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health
“Being certified is a validation of my commitment, experience, and clinical expertise. I am proud to work along with my fellow certified nurses every day. It is a constant reminder and reassurance to our patients and family members that they are receiving the highest quality care. Certified nurses are determined professionals who invest in their professional and personal growth – they inspire me to be the best.”
—Sherley John, MSN, RN, CCRN; Clinical Nurse, Neurosurgical ICU; North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, New York (Provided by AACN.)
“Having a certification, NE-BC, has given me confidence in my role and supported growth in my career! I would encourage everyone to consider certification in their specialty areas.”
—Danielle M. Wilson MSN, RN, NE-BC; Director Nursing Innovation and Evidence Based Practice; University of Maryland Capital Region Health
“As a certified nurse, I have even more confidence when conferring with my clinical colleagues, because they understand that I have specialized knowledge about my field of nursing. Because of this, I can advocate even more strongly for my patients, consistently improving the standard of care—and the reputation of our nursing staff and hospital. My certification shows that I am a mentor, a leader in my field, committed to growth, accountability, and superior care.”
—Kristen Wolfe, RN, RNC-MNN; Nurse Manager, Mother-Baby Unit; University of Maryland St Joseph Medical Center
“Becoming a certified nurse validates competence and knowledge within a specialty area, and it could increase job opportunities and potentially an increase in earnings. Some areas, such as case management, nursing administration, or being promoted within levels of practice for staff nurses, require certification.”
—Marilyn Wideman, RN, DNP, FAAN, Academic Dean and Vice President; the School of Nursing at Purdue University Global
“I am very proud to have been a certified rehabilitation nurse since 2007. This certification elevates our expertise in the way that we understand and take care of our rehabilitation patients after a disabling event or chronic illness. Maintaining the certification keeps me current with evidence-based practice specific to the needs of our rehab patients.”
—Holny Santana, BSN, RN, CRRN; Nurse Manager, Spinal Cord Unit; University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute
“What I value most about my certification is the opportunities it’s opened up for me – the respect that I receive from my nursing and non-nursing peers, and the changes I’ve been able to make to the nursing practice at my current and previous organizations. I am a better practitioner because of my certifications.”
—Sam Merchant, MBA, BSN, RN, CCRN, PCCN, NE-BC, RN-BC; Progressive Care Unit; University Health System, San Antonio, Texas (Provided by AACN.)
“Earning my Medical Surgical Board Certification provided more professional credibility as a nurse. It helped me with my professional growth as well because it made me more confident in providing quality care to my patients. Patients I have taken care of expressed ‘feeling safe under my care’ just by them knowing that I have an RN-BC title in my badge.”
—Lina DeCastro, MAN, RN-BC; Clinical Nurse 4; Post-Surgical and Orthopedic Unit; University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center
“Besides personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment, certification validated all of the knowledge and experience I’ve gained working in the ICU for almost 10 years. My certification has made me a more confident nurse, knowing what I’ve been doing for my patients is aligned with national guidelines and standards for excellence in patient care.”
—Erica McCartney, BSN, RN, CCRN-CMC, ICU/IMCU; resource RN; Swedish Medical Center, Edmonds, Washington (Provided by AACN.)
“It is important for myself and my colleagues to become certified because it demonstrates that nurses have the knowledge, skills, and passion to provide high quality care to patients and their families. Certification shows that you are a lifelong learner who cares about the quality of care you deliver based on the most up-to-date evidence. Certified nurses are role models for other nurses and other health care professionals. It enhances their credibility among colleagues, patients and other members of the health care team. Certification shows that nursing is a profession that cares about safety, quality, and excellence.”
—Kathy M Reisig, RN-BC, BSN; Nurse Manager, NICU, Pediatric Unit, and Pediatrics After Hours; University of Maryland St Joseph Medical Center
“Certification provides validation and it indicates pride, dedication, self-direction and professional development for nurses. It also provides assurance to patients and families for quality patient care. I am proud to hold two certifications!”
—Katie Boston-Leary, PhD(c) MBA MHA BSN CNOR NEA-BC; Chief Nursing Officer; University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center
Take a moment to celebrate Certified Nurses Day and tell us what you love about being certified in the comments below.
Radiology nursing primarily involves diagnosis through imaging. It is one of the most heavily used departments in nursing. Nonetheless, many nurses are unfamiliar with what a radiology nurse is or does. Schools don’t have courses dedicated to radiology and clinicals tend to focus on inpatient units. Furthermore, most new graduate nurses want to be in the ICU, PCU, ED, or another inpatient unit. Unfortunately, these sought-after positions can be hard to find for new graduates because of demand, and many hospitals won’t hire new grads to some of these units.
Radiology nursing provides an alternative career path that most new graduate nurses and more experienced nurse are not familiar with.
Radiology: The Unsung Hero of the Hospital
Often radiology goes unnoticed, but every department uses it in some way. Whether you are in the emergency room evaluating for a bleed in a recent trauma patient, having a drain placed due to a fluid collection, or staging a newly found mass, you will need the radiology department. CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs are all covered by radiology. They can perform something as simple as a chest x-ray or as advanced as 3-D anatomic modeling to assist physicians in surgical planning.
In some hospitals, over 75% of patients have a scan or procedure in radiology during their stay. Thus, at the bedside, chances are you have interacted with a radiology nurse, even if you didn’t know it.
So What is Radiology Nursing?
Radiology nurses ensure patient safety by making detailed assessments, providing moderate sedation to patients, assisting in the recovery of patients post-procedure, injecting contrast, and assessing patients during procedures, amongst other responsibilities. This makes the radiology nurse an integral part of the care team that helps ensure safe and efficient care to all patients.
Radiology nurses can expect to work with physicians, patient care assistants, technologists, and sonographers, as well as other RN staff from different units. They care for adult and pediatric patients and generally hold advanced certifications such as ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support).
Whether you are a new graduate looking for a strategic job opportunity or an experienced nurse looking to diversify your experience, radiology nursing could be a fantastic opportunity for you.
Earning certifications of any kind can definitely help your nursing career. If you work with adults in gerontology, you have a couple of choices. So, how do you choose the one that would work best for your particular situation?
Robin Dennison, DNP, APRN, CCNS, NEA-BC, Director of Nursing Programs at the University of Saint Augustine for Health Sciences, answered some basic questions about the differences between the two for Nurse Practitioners (NP).
Regarding gerontology certifications—specifically the ACNPC-AG and the AGPCNP-BC—what are the similarities between the two certifications? What are the major differences?
The ACNPC-AG (Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certified in Adult-Gerontology) is offered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) via the AACN Certification Corporation. The AGPCNP-BC (Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner certification) is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
Both certifications require a passing score on an examination after verification of eligibility. Eligibility for both certifications require a current, active RN license in a state or territory of the United States or the equivalent in another country. Eligibility for both certifications require the applicant to be a graduate of an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program accredited by either CCNE or ACEN. The program must have three separate graduate-level courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology. They both require a minimum of 500 faculty-supervised practicum hours in the program. Eligibility for both requires submission of an official transcript.
While the fees are comparable, current memberships result in significant discounts. Membership in AACN or ANA results in a discount on the respective certification.
The test blueprints are similar, but the AACN certification has a greater percentage of the exam questions focused on clinical practice. The ANCC certification test blueprint has the majority of questions focused on clinical practice, but it has a greater percentage of questions focused on role-professional responsibilities and health care systems than the AACN examination.
How can nurses determine which one would be the better for them to pursue?
AACN, with its focus on critical care, would likely be the preference for a nurse who was previously a critical care nurse and held the CCRN credential. If the nurse did not have that previous affiliation with AACN, then they may select ANCC. It may even come down to the nurse’s memberships: AACN or ANA and the discounts that are given for the membership.
How could these certifications help them in their careers? Could having one of these help them get better paying jobs? Move up? Be experts in their field?
National certification in one of the advanced practice roles (i.e., nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife) is required for an eligibility for licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse in most states. The board of nursing in the state of residence will specify requirements for APRN licensure as well as standards of practice for the advanced practice role. Advanced practice licensure allows greater autonomy, authority, and generally higher salaries.
It may seem like it would take a superhero to balance full-time nursing work with continuing education and perhaps even a personal life, but take heart. It is possible, even without sacrifice. Continuing nursing education, whether for an advanced degree, studying for specialty certification, or keeping current on evidence-based practice, is a matter of discipline. That life is about quality rather than quantity is also true in the balancing act of being a working student.
The first step in nursing education is organizing the details: What would a full-time course load look like? Will it require cooperation from your employer, and if so, how willing are they to accommodate you? Will your employer help you pay tuition and what are the limits of that? What are your other commitments and how flexible are they?
One suggestion for making it work is to look at a typical week of your life and block out times that you are unavailable. This includes times that you spend with your family, running errands, and yes, even playing and relaxing. Make your class schedule around that, while at the same time remembering that there will be homework.
When you apply to school, start the process early and give yourself the luxury of time in the application process; it is easier done in small nibbles than large bites. Your application can be painlessly completed one transcript, personal statement paragraph, and reference request at a time.
Once enrolled, having the discipline to give your schoolwork quality attention will allow you to feel fulfilled and purposeful rather than deprived. When you study, turn your phone and TV off, ask for privacy, set a timer, and focus. And when you’re done, be done. Don’t give up anything important to you. Continue exercising, knitting, playing music, or whatever gives you pleasure and reprieve.
The last thing your patient or your family needs is an angry, tired nurse. Even if it’s one class at a time, you’re doing it. So…do it, but do it as you continue high-quality patient care and high-quality self-care.
About 650,000 Americans are currently affected by End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), and this number is increasing by 5% annually. The primary causes of kidney failure leading to ESRD are poorly managed diabetes and high blood pressure, the treatment options for which are limited to kidney transplant and dialysis. Unfortunately, there are currently more than 93,000 potential recipients on the kidney transplant waiting list and 80% of those individuals are on kidney dialysis while they wait.
Demand for Nurses is Growing
The specialty of nephrology and dialysis nursing continues to grow with these rising ESRD numbers. In fact, nephrology nursing is expected to grow over 25% within the next 10 years. These nurses can expect an attractive salary and a diverse working environment. Nephrology nurses might work on a typical hospital unit, but those who perform dialysis also work in dialysis centers, nursing homes, inpatient hospice centers, and even in-home health.
Nurses Develop Deeper Relationships with Patients
Renal failure is a chronic condition, so those who suffer from it must access care frequently. This means nephrology nurses will see their patients regularly. Dialysis nurses often have the ability to work with patients one on one, providing an opportunity to give care in a much more personal, attentive way. They also care for their patients through the continuum of the disease progression, so they get to know their patients quite well.
Certification and Advanced Education for Leadership
A nephrology nurse may elect to pursue certification or even further education and their Nephrology Nurse Practitioner certification. These nurses take their practice deeper, providing primary care for their patients who battle ESRD during dialysis and even after transplant—if and when that becomes possible.
There are plenty of worthwhile opportunities for nurses to make a difference in the lives of renal patients whose prognosis can be dire. Examples of such opportunities and further information on dialysis nursing can be found here.
The College of Nursing at South Dakota State University is now offering a postgraduate certificate program in psychiatric mental health. The certificate program, which was approved earlier in February, will begin courses in Fall 2019.
“We know family nurse practitioners assess for mental-health needs across the life span but are limited in treating the needs without the specialized certification,” Mary Minton, associate dean of graduate nursing for SDSU’s College of Nursing, told the SDSU Collegian. “The proposed certificate prepares graduates to provide much needed high-quality mental-health care in a variety of settings in rural and urban South Dakota. It increases much-needed access to psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners in our state where a serious shortage currently exists.”
The certificate was created to help with the shortage of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners in South Dakota. A publication from the South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce reports that while the state has over 1,100 certified nurse practitioners, only 3.3 percent of them are working in psychiatric mental health.
“This certificate will enhance the scope of practice for the nurse practitioner to provide more holistic health care,” Kay Foland, an SDSU College of Nursing professor, shared with the SDSU Collegian. “Persons needing health care more than likely to have a number of health concerns, including emotional and mental health issues. Completing the psychiatric mental health certificate will better prepare the family nurse practitioner to provide a more comprehensive, competent and evidenced-based practice level of care.”
There is a great need for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, in addition to more healthcare workers as the U.S. continues to suffer a nursing shortage. SDSU approved this certificate program to help address the shortage, so more nurse practitioners can work in outpatient clinics, primary-care units, private practices, community health and community mental health centers, and hospitals. They may also provide services in substance abuse programs, high-risk pregnancy centers, schools, prisons and trauma centers.
The certificate program is a part-time, 18-credit online program designed for advanced practice registered nurses, and family nurse practitioners, to complete in four semesters. For more information on the program, visit www.sdstate.edu/nursing/graduate-nursing/.