On Certified Nurses Day, Brigham nurses hosted an information table for their colleagues.

On Certified Nurses Day, Brigham nurses hosted an information table for their colleagues.

If you’re thinking about becoming certified in a specialty, the Center for Nursing Excellence has some information and tips to help you get started on this exciting professional development journey.

  1. Certification benefits you and your patients. “Obtaining certification is an important part of nurses’ professional development,” says Lisa Preston, DNP, RN, nursing program director in the Center for Nursing Excellence. “Certification is directly related to improving patient outcomes, and it has a huge impact on a nurse’s self-esteem, professional growth, job satisfaction and engagement.”
  2. Determine what certifications you qualify for. Look into the requirements of certifications pertaining to your specialty. Most certifications require a certain amount of experience — such as a minimum number of clinical hours — and some require continuing education credits. “Reviewing the requirements of the certification you are interested in is the first step,” Preston says. “If you aren’t yet eligible, you can focus on completing the requirements, such as building up the number of continuing education credits you need.”
  3. It’s never too early to start. Newly licensed nurses (NLNs) who may not have enough experience to meet certification requirements can still begin planning. “It’s a good idea for NLNs to figure out what specialty they may be interested in, look at the requirements and determine when they will be eligible to sit for an exam,” Preston says. “Having a goal in mind helps you stay on track in planning your professional development path.”
  4. Don’t let fear of failing stop you. “It can be intimidating to take a test, especially if you have been out of school for a while,” says Preston. “But we can help. Several organizations we are partnering with offer free and discounted re-takes, which takes the pressure off.” Some organizations also offer free downloadable practice tests so that you can get a sense of what the exam will cover in advance.
  5. The Department of Nursing is here to support you. The department is working with a number of organizations that have direct payment programs so nurses do not have to pay out-of-pocket and await reimbursement from the hospital. In addition, nurses have access to resources to help them prepare, with some units and divisions purchasing review materials for exams and offering study groups.

 

If you are interested in obtaining a certification, speak with your nursing director or professional development manager to learn about available resources. With general questions, contact Lisa Preston at lpreston@bwh.harvard.edu.