Nursing Certification

Photo by Christiana Care

Jacqueline Stewart is a registered nurse and the president of the American Board of Nursing Specialties.

Certification is a popular topic in the nursing world. You have no doubt noticed the professional credentials adorning the name tags and resumes of your colleagues.  As prevalent as specialty certification is, it surprises me when a nurse asks me, “Why should I get certified?” 

The American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS), an association of organizations that certify nurses in a specialty, has a membership that represents nearly 500,000 certified nurses.  The message we hear is clear—nurses value certification. 

How do we know this? ABNS, and other certifying agencies, have examined the value of certification through research and we continue to see the same results. Nurses feel that earning a certification fulfills both their professional and personal goals.  Earning a credential in a specialty offers a nurse a professional challenge. It enhances their credibility among colleagues, patients and other members of the healthcare team and provides an avenue to validate their specialized knowledge.  (A summary of this research is available online here.)

We have also noticed employers encouraging their nursing staff to earn and maintain professional credentials now more than ever before.  One reason might be that certification is one of several factors the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) considers when awarding Magnet®, a highly sought after honor among healthcare institutions.   

On a personal level, certification has played an important role in the care I provide my patients and has opened up new career opportunities for me. I think a better question to ask is, “why wouldn’t a nurse get certified?”

The ABNS Web site includes information that can help you learn more about certification and link you to the organization that provides a credential in the specialty area you suits your interest.  Visit ABNS online.

Jacqueline Stewart 

RN,MSN, CEN, CCRN, FAEN

President, ABNS

Assistant Professor of Nursing

Wilkes University

Wilkes Barre, PA


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