To mark Certified Nurses Day on March 19, we spoke with some of the Brigham’s 865 certified nurses to learn more about what certification means to them and what advice they may have for colleagues who may be considering certification.

“Certification has enriched my practice of dialysis quite a bit. Dialysis procedures are intricate and require knowledge of process and procedures. My certification has helped me understand the full picture. I chose to get certified because I wanted to learn more about dialysis, and I continue to learn through the CEUs and classes I complete routinely.

For those considering certification, definitely get it! You will get the most out of your work through certification. It is worth the time and investment.

Certification really helps with how to treat patients. I have been certified for two years and have been a dialysis nurse for greater than 15 years. I believe certification plays a large role in the work I do as a dialysis nurse, and I truly benefit from it.”

 Eugenio Pueyo, BSN, RN, CNN, Staff Nurse, Tower Building, 3D Hemodialysis Unit


“Obtaining my Critical Care Nursing certification (CCRN) has helped solidify my career as an ICU nurse. We have a good amount of autonomy as nurses in the ICU, and it’s great to understand the full complexities of our body systems and what we use daily to help treat patients, such as pressors, vent support and more. Being a non-cardiac ICU nurse, it was also beneficial to learn how to read a 12-lead electrocardiogram. The CCRN certification has helped my practice by being able to apply what I learned when caring for patients at the bedside. It’s really great to see what you learned about in practice from various disease processes to plans of care and treatment.

I think it’s great for everyone to get certified! You definitely need to make time to study, but studying for even an hour a day can help you obtain your CCRN. It’s interesting to learn about the various topics presented because we can apply most of them to our patient population, and I think that makes it easier to study because we can think back to patients who had these conditions. Practice questions were also a great way to study.

The Department of Nursing was able to offer me a voucher to take the exam. I was grateful for that because I did not have to pay for the exam, and I think that’s more of an incentive to get certified when the department is able to help us obtain certifications. They also provided very helpful, free review courses, which our professional development manager and nurse manager informed us about.”

—Tulsi Patel, BSN, RN, CCRN, Staff Nurse, Braunwald Tower 8, Burn/Trauma/Surgical ICU


“My certification is in Maternal Newborn Nursing (MNN). Obtaining my certification was a professional goal for years. I finally got the courage to study and take the exam last year. I was really nervous, but I am so glad I did it. It was important for me to stay up to date in my field of nursing, so I feel this was a great tool to achieve this. I also feel it helps me as a clinical instructor for my nursing students. I am happy to join the fellow certified nurses on my unit.

Nursing certification allows for more opportunities of awareness within my field of practice. I feel it has given me more confidence within my roles on CWN 9/10 for postpartum nursing. Along the way to obtaining my certification for postpartum, it also provided educational opportunities for labor and delivery, antepartum and the NICU, all of which are so valuable within our division. Another added benefit is that it helps keep up your CEUs.

Certification was also a catalyst for setting more career goals. It gave me the courage to start working on my master’s degree. I am currently enrolled in an MSN program at SNHU in executive leadership. Once I complete my MSN, my next certification goal is to obtain my Nurse Executive Leadership (NE-BC). I have a lot of work to do before then, though!”

—Brianna Howard, BSN, RN, MNN, Staff Nurse, Clinical Instructor, Relief Nurse-in-Charge and Preceptor, Postpartum Unit, CWN 9/10


“My certification has enriched my nursing practice in that I feel more confident taking care of my patients. For me, it brought that whole picture together. I only have experience working in postpartum care, so studying for the exam gave me a chance to focus on all areas of maternity nursing, not just postpartum.

As a clinical instructor for nursing students and a preceptor to new graduate nurses, it is a great way to stay up to date and feel confident in teaching.

I received support from my nursing department to take a two-day review, and I was also reimbursed for taking the exam.

If anyone is even remotely interested, I would encourage them to go for it! What’s there to lose? You might surprise yourself!!”

—Kelly Mayo, BSN, RN, MNN, Staff Nurse and Clinical Instructor, Postpartum Unit, CWN 9/10


“I work in palliative care and hospice, and it is the highest honor to help bring patients comfort during such a difficult time. Obtaining the Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN) certification has sharpened my skills and enriched my practice in this area. I received reimbursement from the Department of Nursing to obtain my certification. My professional development manager, Cathy Rowland, encouraged me to go for it when I told her I was thinking about certifying. She also gave me a CHPN study book that I used to practice for the exam, which I greatly appreciate.

For those who may be considering certification, I recommend you go for it, too. At first, I was hesitant to certify because of the time commitment required to study for the exam, but studying was valuable to my practice and passing the exam was a great recognition of my own skills.”

Gage Powell, BSN, RN, CHPN, Staff Nurse, Braunwald Tower 4A, Oncology Intensive Palliative Care Unit (IPCU)


“I started my practice as a peri-anesthesia nurse over 17 years ago. After working in the Peri-Op department for several years, specifically the Day Surgery Unit, I was encouraged by my colleague and friend, Marie, to take the review course and get certified. Our nursing director at the time had arranged to have a Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN®) and the Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA®) review course for any interested staff, and continuing education hours were also an incentive. I decided to take this course and use my free time to study for my upcoming exam.

After getting more involved in the unit and feeling the itch to advance my practice, I made the decision to move from the Day Surgery Unit to our main PACU. I was now a bit of a novice again. I was able to utilize all the knowledge I had gained from studying for my CAPA exam to put towards my PACU orientation. After a few years in the PACU, I had Marie, who had been dual-certified for years, telling me, ‘It is time to take the next test and become dual-certified.’ I decided she was right, and I studied and sat for my CPAN exam and became dual-certified.

The hospital provides reimbursement incentives for certification and re-certification, as well as yearly compensation for holding a specialty certification. We are allotted time to attend conferences and receive additional reimbursement to put toward the cost. I find that my certifications have helped me to safely care for and advocate better for my patients. This has also supported my practice and allowed me to more effectively orient new staff and the next generation of PACU nurses.”

—Heather Murphy, BSN, RN, CAPA, CPAN, Staff Nurse, Braunwald Tower L1 PACU, Peri-Anesthesia Care Unit


“When the Pain Management certification (PMGT-BC) was first offered in 2005, I had already worked at the Pain Management Center for 20 years, so I was so happy that pain was finally being recognized as a certified specialty. Nursing could finally demonstrate their expertise and commitment in a concrete way. I was at a very busy stage in my life — working full-time and taking care of sick relatives after work — so passing the exam that year was all the more fulfilling. As nurse-in-charge, I strongly encouraged the other nurses in our unit to take the exam that year, too.

Maintaining the certification helps to keep one current. Pain is still in its infancy compared to many other specialties. Evidence-based practice is continually emerging. Attending meetings and/or completing the required continuing education helps to ensure we provide the most up-to-date care for our patients. I believe this is something we owe ourselves along our professional journey as well as to the patients we serve. I, along with our current manager, Mike Ferrick, DNP, still encourage staff to obtain their certification. The contractual agreement for the hospital to reimburse testing costs and provide an annual stipend are a welcome bonus.”

—Diane Palombi, BSN, RN-BC, PMGT-BC, Nurse-in-Charge, BWH Pain Management Center (850 Boylston Street, Suite 320)