nursing specialty certificationWe are proud to call ourselves nurses. We are proud of the hard work that we did in school and the fact that we passed the nursing licensure examination. We probably remember all our instructors telling us that learning doesn’t stop once we achieved licensure. Professional growth is essential, and there are many options that we can choose from to achieve this goal. Perhaps our employer has a program for staff development, such as a career ladder. Perhaps we have to complete mandatory continuing education hours to renew our license. There is another option that we may not initially think about which is the nursing specialty certification.


Certification can be valuable in many ways. In the current economy, it may help a nurse survive staff cutbacks and be more competitive in the job market. It may also lead to a pay increase in some circumstances. Certification can enhance the job opportunities which may be available. It may be seen by an employer as a demonstration of your determination to learn and grow professionally and your desire to improve your patient care skills. 

Studies have demonstrated that specialty-certified nurses have higher rates of patient satisfaction and lower rates of errors. Another important benefit is the personal satisfaction and increased confidence that comes from passing a nursing certification exam.


Being a nurse sometimes isn’t enough anymore. We may need to validate our expertise, and certification is a great way to do just that. A great thing about certification is that we have so many choices of specialty exams and more become available all the time. We can choose from certification exams in everything from childbirth education to long term care nursing. Other examples are managed care nursing, critical care nursing, flight nursing, medical surgical nursing, oncology nursing, orthopedic nursing, pain management, and school nursing just to name a few. In all, there are over two hundred nursing specialties and subspecialties.


We aren’t generally required by law to be certified in the specific specialty area in which we work. It is therefore a personal choice. We may feel that we don’t have time to study, or don’t have the money for another test. Maybe we just don’t think we can do it. These reasons may seem perfectly valid, but when we look over the long-term, a little extra time and money devoted to obtaining certification in our chosen specialty will pay for itself many times over. 

There are a variety of entities which offer the various types of certification exams. An internet search or contacting your local nursing association may provide some valuable information regarding these entities and the quality of their offerings.

As professionals, it is up to us to continue to obtain knowledge and skills. Nursing specialty certification can do that and a whole lot more.