Inspiring Nurses to Achieve Certification

Feb 27, 2023

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Certification is about the journey, not the destination


Certified Nurses Day is an important celebration of our community’s dedication to lifelong learning and commitment to patient safety. As healthcare becomes increasingly complex and challenging, the value of certification is more important than ever. Certified Nurses Day is a day to recognize and applaud certified nurses for their great achievement. It is also a call to action for non-certified nurses to pursue certification. Deciding which certification is right for you and pursuing that certification can be challenging. Through sharing experiences and stories from our community, we hope to inspire you to achieve certification as a mark of nursing excellence.

What motivated you to become a certified nurse?

My motivation to become certified was to show the experience, the knowledge and the excellence in patient care that I had developed over six years. I had known people who were excellent nurses, and they were certified. I waited until I was ready and met the eligibility criteria. I felt like I had learned a lot before becoming certified. I studied to add all of the knowledge I learned to my practice. That would be my advice for anybody who wants to become certified: Even if you're new and you don't meet the hours required, start studying, grab a book, because you are also learning as you're studying. – Casey Green, BSN, RN, CCRN, CTRN, CFRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN

I got my PCCN certification in 2013 to elevate my practice to a higher level. I look at my practice differently; I wanted to focus more on patient safety and quality. I did it to validate what I know and to gain more knowledge about my practice. After I obtained my PCCN, I developed more in- depth critical thinking, [and] incorporated synergy and advocacy in my delivery of care. It motivated me to be more involved in AACN, national and local chapters. As an ambassador, I promote certification to every nurse I talk to. Learning something new always makes us better, and it is critical for any nurse to keep learning to better care for our patients. – Bonnette Villalba Webb, BSN, RN, PCCN-K

When preparing for your certification exam, what surprised you?

Studying for these exams gave me a much greater understanding as to what I was doing and all the pathological reasons why. So I took the PCCN first. I studied for it and thought, wow, you know what? I actually learned so much that I still have all these clinical hours for the two subspecialty exams that I qualify to take. I want to learn about these and I want to take these, too. – Antonio Meehan, BSN, RN, PCCN-CMC-CSC

How did you feel when you received the news that you passed your exam?

[I was] excited to announce that I passed my CCRN exam!! Thrilled to continue to learn and progress as a professional within nursing and critical care. – Josh Aujla, BSN, RN, CCRN

Has certification made an impact on your life?

The adage ‘it takes a village’ still holds true. So grateful for my village, aka my family and friends, who stood by me and cheered me on as I sacrificed every ounce of spare time I had to achieve a long-sought-after goal in my career. I wholeheartedly believe that my children have benefited from watching me commit every ounce of spare time to studying and achieving my goal. When children see examples of what it means to put in the hard work to accomplish a goal, it normalizes a strong work ethic and creates a growth mindset. When one of us wins, we all win. Leadership starts at home, and I’m so thankful to help set that example for my family. Because of their support I can reintroduce myself as Kelley Stewart, BSN, RN, CCRN!! – Kelley Stewart, BSN, RN, CCRN

Has certification enhanced your practice or professional development?

Becoming a nursing voice was one of the unforeseen impacts of obtaining my certifications. I'm a voice not only for certification, but for excellence in nursing, and I think leadership as well. I stepped into a role as an assistant nurse manager, and one of the things I encourage the staff to do is seek certification. – Casey Green, BSN, RN, CCRN, CTRN, CFRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN

Why should other nurses consider obtaining their certification?

Certification is a recognized measurement of increased professional development; it implies expertise as evaluated by peers, and it is associated with a higher level of job satisfaction. – Roberta Kaplow, PhD, APRN-CCNS, AOCNS, CCRN, FAAN

Any advice for nurses who want to become certified or are considering it?

Find people around you that believe in your goal. So if there's a nurse on your unit who's CCRN-certified … talk to them about certification. So, find people who are also interested in certification, because they're also a good resource to help you with a study plan or just make sure you're ready to take a certification exam. Keep yourself around people who believe in you. – Casey Green, BSN, RN, CCRN, CTRN, CFRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN

Are you interested in becoming certified?

We hope these highlights inspire you to pursue certification.

Becoming certified recognizes your knowledge and commitment to patient safety, both marks of nursing excellence that matter to patients, families, employers and the public. Certified Nurses Day on March 19 may be one day of recognition, but every day there should be a celebration when a nurse chooses to become certified or maintain their certification. If the stories here inspired you to start your certification journey, we look forward to celebrating you in the future!

To learn more and to find the right certification for you, check out the many certification resources at AACN.

Inspire others to become certified

If you are a certified nurse, invite one of your non-certified colleagues to take the certification journey. If you are on your way to achieving certification or if you have already become certified, thank you for going the extra mile for patients and families.

Do you or someone you know have an inspiring certification journey? We want to hear all about it! Submit your story idea.