The American Nurses Credentialing Center originally dedicated March 19th as Certified Nurses Day. This date wasn’t chosen randomly. It’s the birthday of Margretta “Gretta” Madden Styles, a nurse leader who conducted the first research related to nurse credentialling. A leader in the establishment of the American Nurses Credentialling Center, her work informed comprehensive standards and laid the foundation for nurse credentialling programs worldwide.
The importance of nursing certification
Why is nursing certification important? I pondered that question after I accepted my first position as a critical care nurse. I soon observed that my colleagues who earned the Critical-Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification showed pride in their specialty. They were motivated, empowered, the top-notch nurses in the unit, the leaders. Aspiring to be like them, I studied and passed my CCRN certification exam and eventually became the nurse manager of the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Years later when I accepted a position as an Infection Preventionist, I knew the personal value of certification. So, I set and achieved a personal goal of earning the Certification in Infection Prevention and Control as soon as I met the eligibility requirements.
Research shows that certification increases a nurse’s confidence and feeling of empowerment. It demonstrates knowledge, skill, and clinical judgement reflected in the national standards for the specific specialty. When I became certified, I felt confident and empowered. Certification also demonstrated my commitment to life-long learning to maintain the certifications. As a result, my marketability and earning potential grew. In fact, surveys show that nurses with current certification have higher base compensation than those without. (Stokowski 2020).
Benefits of certification for patients and families
It wasn’t until I became a nurse leader that I recognized the ultimate benefits of nursing certification, the benefits to patients and their families. Patients and their families gain confidence knowing that they’re receiving quality care given by a certified nurse. Research shows that care given by certified nurses is associated with lower complication rates, including patient falls and healthcare-associated infections. (Halm 2021, Coelho 2020) According to one study, patient satisfaction scores increased as the number of certified nurses increased.
Certification benefits for the healthcare organization
Of course, benefits to patients, family, and nursing staff translate to benefits for the healthcare organization. Certified nurses demonstrate the organization’s commitment to delivering high quality patient care, which gives the organization a competitive edge. Reducing complications and increasing patient satisfaction helps with reimbursement. Certification not only improves patient satisfaction but nursing staff job satisfaction, which leads to lower nurse turnover and vacancy rates. The recertification process encourages life-long learning, which keeps nurses abreast of the latest evidence-based practices and healthcare trends, which maintains the organization’s high standard of care.
Take some time to celebrate!
There’s no doubt that certification brings value to patients, families, nurses, and healthcare organizations. So, this Certified Nurses Day let’s celebrate those who have achieved certification. It’s a great accomplishment! But we can’t stop there… as nurse leaders we need to be role models in the certification process. We need to encourage others to go the extra mile, to get certified. We need to provide resources and eliminate barriers to certification. We need to encourage staff to go ahead and do it! And, when they achieve certification, we need to celebrate each success.