To drive patient health and safety through comprehensive credentialing of acute and critical care nurses ensuring practice consistent with standards of excellence.
~ AACN Certification Corporation mission
One of my favorite events at each NTI is the Certification Celebration. The highlight of the dinner is acknowledging those one or two nurses who have been certified the longest. You know how it works: Everyone stands up, and then we each methodically sit down by the number of years certified. First, those certified five years or less sit; then five-10 years; then 10-15 years and so on, until those certified for 40 or more years are standing to be recognized.
When I became certified, I don’t remember it being anything unique or special. I was working in an ICU that promoted AACN membership and professional development. It was more or less expected that the “best of the best” nurses become certified. I wanted to be respected as one of the best, so it was natural that I would seek certification.
I studied the core curriculum, took a six-week certification review class offered by our clinical nurse specialist and prepared for a good old-fashioned paper-and-pencil “fill in the oval” test. (I know some of you remember when the exam was on paper and only offered a few times a year in a proctor-monitored classroom.)
Is the age of my certification showing? Well, I was first certified in 1987, and there have been lots of changes in certification since then. The paper-and-pencil exam has long been replaced by computerized exams available at testing centers for your convenience. AACN Certification Corporation has grown from offering one exam — the CCRN certification exam — to now offering 15 certification exams. And now, certification is required for licensure in advanced practice.
Despite the many changes in certification over the years, one thing remains the same: Certification still represents excellence, the best of the best. There are studies showing that nurses whose clinical judgment has been validated through certification report that they make decisions with greater confidence. Certified nurses also overwhelmingly say that certification enabled them to experience personal growth and feel more satisfied in their work.
One of the more common reasons to become certified is the meaningful recognition it brings to you as a professional nurse. Another is the enormous pride one feels becoming certified in their specialty. You see, that’s why so many of us enjoy the Certification Celebration. We are proud of our certification — whether it was obtained last year or 40 years ago.
This month, we celebrate certification on Certified Nurses Day, Tuesday, March 19. So congratulations to all you certified nurses. Not certified yet? I encourage you to invest in yourself, become certified and join a special group of more than 118,000 AACN-certified nurses.
Let me know how you are celebrating certified nurses this month at OurStrength@aacn.org.