Becoming specialized in a particular area of nursing requires a considerable amount of time, resources and dedication. Many nurses choose to obtain a specialty certification in their field of interest or experience. Examples of specialty areas may include oncology, cardiac care, emergency, hospice and many more. Johnson & Johnson's Discover Nursing campaign site lists 104 specialties within 9 categories of nursing care and includes each job's characteristics and setting.
The Benefits of Specialization
Becoming certified in a nursing specialty provides many benefits to both the nurse and the patients they care for. Specializing demonstrates a depth of knowledge in the given area. Obtaining specialty certification can also contribute to personal and professional growth, clinical confidence, decision-making ability, and increased job satisfaction. Taking pride in your area of expertise can give you a sense of accomplishment and mastery. This positive step can inspire peers to do the same.
Additional benefits to certification in a given specialty include a potential increase in earnings. Some hospital systems and employers offer incentives to becoming specialized and may even help cover the cost of testing or study materials. Pursuing certification can exhibit your continued desire to learn and keep knowledge current, a desirable trait for any nurse. Management and administration may be more likely to promote nurses who have taken an interest in specialty certification(s), validating those nurses' competency and credibility within their profession.
Improved Patient Outcomes
Patients are becoming more aware of specialty-certified nurses and their range of expertise. A recent article titled, "The Power of Nursing Specialty Certifications" notes, "A 2002 Harris Poll found that 78 percent of consumers were aware of nursing certification. Seventy-three percent said they'd prefer to receive care in a hospital filled with certified nurses." Having expertise in any given specialty can lead to better patient outcomes with earlier identification of problematic events or symptoms and knowledge of effective treatments. Being able to provide competent intervention can come easier once certified, as your knowledge base is expanded.
How to Become Certified
RNCentral explains the process of becoming certified: "You can usually obtain a certification through professional nursing associations in specialty practice areas or nursing organizations, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center. To earn a specialized certification you must first meet eligibility requirements [which] ... typically include that you have a certain amount of college education, a current and unrestricted license as a registered nurse, and have completed a minimum number of hours working in the specialty practice area ... You will then be required to pass an examination that will assess your knowledge of the specialized area and your ability to apply that knowledge to medical situations." It is important to note that certifications can expire and require renewal. Staying abreast of deadlines and maintaining active licensure is key.
Pursuing a nursing specialty certification takes time for study, funds for testing and a desire to learn. The benefits to earning certification are plentiful to the nurse, their patients and even their peers. WorkingNurse expands upon this idea by stating, "While specialty certification is voluntary, obtaining it can be a tremendous benefit to almost any registered nurse. Nurses who validate their expertise through specialty certification set the standard for the profession." If you are considering a specialty certification, don't wait. Start your studies early and plan a testing date in advance. Your patients will thank you for your dedication to their care and your peers will take note of your continued pursuit of knowledge.
Learn more about A-State's online RN to BSN program.
Sources:Working Nurse: The Power of Nursing Specialty Certifications