Professionalism through Certification

Alex KlacmanBy Jeff Solheim, MSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, CFRN, FAEN, FAAN

March 19, 2019, has been recognized as “Certified Nurses Day,” a day to celebrate the 40% of registered nurses who have demonstrated a commitment to their profession and specialty through certification. (Hess, 2018).
Many of the benefits of certification are well-known. A lot of hospitals, for example, choose to reimburse nurses with higher wages, either hourly or as an annual bonus, who obtain and maintain their certification. In a study completed by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN), nurses with emergency nursing certification made an average of $1397 more per year than their non-certified colleagues (Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing, 2017). Nursing certification increases the marketability of an individual nurse should he or she choose to change jobs or seek additional opportunities within nursing. As an employer, I will always give additional consideration to a nurse who applies for a job that maintains specialty certification.
But the benefits of certification extend far beyond financial and career rewards. The process of preparing for taking a certification exam and then maintaining that certification results in an increase in knowledge that can be translated to improved patient care. This is actually recognized by a majority of the public. A Harris Poll found that 78% of the American public knows that nurses can be certified, and 73% would choose a hospital that they knew employed nurses with specialty certification (American Association of Critical Care Nurses). On a personal note, I recently visited an emergency department with my mother and requested that certified nurses be assigned to her care. It was important to me to know that the nurses who were going to care for someone important to me had demonstrated the knowledge and commitment to their specialty through certification.
For me, certification is a professional responsibility and a source of pride. As I look at other white-collar professionals, including our physician colleagues, the majority of them have chosen to pursue board certification. If I want to be recognized as a professional and an essential part of the healthcare team, then it is important for me to demonstrate that same degree of professionalism. 
Similarly, when I graduated from nursing school, I completed my board exam to be recognized as a registered nurse, but that was simply an entrance measurement of my knowledge and a recognition that I had the core knowledge to work as a registered nurse. Many years later, my knowledge base extends far beyond that core knowledge demonstrated in my initial entrance examination. I am now a competent flight nurse and emergency nurse. My credentials as a certified emergency nurse and certified flight registered nurse allow me to advertise to the world that my knowledge extends beyond the core knowledge required of a nurse entering the field, and that I have additional expertise in the nursing specialty I have chosen.
And so, on March 19, 2019, setting aside time to celebrate certification, I tip my hat to all my colleagues who, like me, demonstrate pride in their nursing specialty through certification. Take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment, and thank you for being a part of advancing our profession through this important step.
Original Publish Date: March 15, 2019


American Association of Critical Care Nurses. (no date). 
Certification Benefits Patients, Employers and Nurses.
 Retrieved from American Association of Critical Care Nurses:

Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. (2017, June 5).
Value of CEN Certification Research Study: Results. Retrieved from Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing:

Hess, R. G. (2018, March 14).
Enjoy the Perks of Nurse Certification.
Retrieved from

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