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Many are cognizant of the controversy circulating the topic of nursing certifications. Nurses wonder: Is getting certified worth it? Will I get a raise? How will this benefit me? Does it make a difference? Why are so many hospitals recommending it? In fact, some even degrade the importance of obtaining certifications. However, several hospitals, especially those with magnet status, those that desire magnet status, or even those that have a clinical advancement ladder, encourage their employees to obtain a certification relevant to their specialty. Additionally, many of said hospitals have reimbursement opportunities to assist individuals with the financial burden associated with exam fees and study tools.

Nursing is an evolving profession that requires us to remain up to date with current evidence-based practices. I like to think of certifications as continuing my education—although, evidently on a significantly smaller degree. I’m here to share my story of how obtaining my certifications played a vital role in my career advancement. I personally used it as a tool to expand my knowledge base and advance in my career—and, you can too!

As an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) student, I knew I wanted to work in a large medical center after I obtained my Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). After graduation, I was under the impression that the only obstacle between said hospital, and me, was my BSN. Therefore, I worked on an acute care unit, at a small community hospital, while I completed my RN-BSN program. Soon after, I applied, and after months of not receiving a call, I got the notion that they were not interested in me. It was evident that I was required to strengthen my application to become a competitive candidate; so I got back to the drawing board.

I decided the next step I had to take was to get experience working in the specialty that I desired the most. Subsequently, I transferred to critical care and worked there for approximately two years before trying my hand again at my dream job. Again, no call for an interview. I was confounded; I was sure I took all the steps I needed to take to land the job, but my mentor begged to differ.

She encouraged me to familiarize myself with certifications and consider obtaining one. After dedicating the next few months of my life to endless studying, I received my Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) and Stroke Certified Registered Nurse (SCRN) certifications, all at the expense of my employer. Getting certified not only enabled me to advance up the clinical ladder at my place of employment, but I finally got the job! Let us not forget about the thoughtful recognition that came with it!

Furthermore, if you ask me, “is it worth it,” I would say “yes.” Will you get a raise? All hospitals are different, and although some hospitals may give you a pay increase, many hospitals apply it as points that will allow you to advance up the clinical ladder; and others give you additional educational funds. However, it is worth looking into with your employer. How will it benefit you? It could help you achieve career advancement, just as it did for me—and much more! Why are so many hospitals recommending it? I have my speculations, but there is a lot of literature surrounding this topic; I highly recommend you dive into them to get the best answer. Does getting certified make a difference? In my opinion and by the example of my experience, without a doubt!

In all, I hope my story gives you some insight on how nursing certifications can have a critical impact on your career. If obtaining a nursing certification has never invigorated your mind before, I foresee that after reading this article you have become inspired to do your research on certifications relevant to your specialty and the associated requirements. Now, go out there and get certified—good luck!

Sheila Pierre-Louis, BSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN

Sheila Pierre-Louis, BSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN, is a critical care nurse at a large medical facility and an active board member of her local AACN chapter. She started her nursing career four years ago, with her ADN from Montgomery College, then received her BSN from University of Maryland, Baltimore, in 2016.
Sheila Pierre-Louis, BSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN

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