Certificate in Nursing
Certification is defined as a means of measuring competence and there are a number of associations which provide nursing certificate programs for the busy nursing professional. Three of the major ones in this country are provided by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the Professional nursing associations in specialty practice areas.
The American Nurses Association
The American Nurses Association has the largest credentialing organization in the United States and they have certified over 250,000 nurses over the past 15 years. A nurse's abilities, skills and knowledge is validated by the ANA's credentialing arm, The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and such certification is recognized by all state boards of nursing and also the military.
If you become ANCC board certified then you will find that your skills are in the greatest demand and certified nurses earn on average more than $9000 more per year than nurses that are not certified.
The ANCC offer certification to nurses, practitioners and practice nurses across 25 specialties and these specialties are sub-divided into 9 areas for the nurse practitioner, 9 for the clinical nurse specialist, 4 for other advanced levels and 20 other specialties. These include Ambulatory Care Nursing, Cardiac Rehabilitation Nursing, Community Health Nursing and Pain Management.
The examination fee in 2009 was $270 for American Nurses Association members and $390 for non-members.
The American Association of Critical Care Nurses
The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) offers specific certification for critical care nurses. In common with the ANCC, you are required to sit a qualifying examination and if you don't hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing then you are eligible to earn the certification for adult, neonatal, and pediatric critical care nurses (CCRN). The credential is valid for three years and can be renewed after that time. The AACN was founded in 1969 and now has over 65000 members around the world.
Other professional nursing associations in specialty practice areas
There are a number of professional nursing associations who offer their own credentialing programs and if you have a specialism which is not covered by the above credentialing bodies then it's worth checking with these other nursing associations. Such specialties include Diabetes, AIDS, Oncology and Plastic Surgical Nursing. Also don't forget to check the examination requirements, including costs and the renewal of certification timescales. Most will require renewal of certification every two to five years and it's important to factor in these costs before making a final decision.
Whatever you decide, certification is an excellent method of proving your skills and education against a national recognized standard and most certified nurses earn considerably more than uncertified nurses.