Board Certification: A Measure of Success

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By Karen Haller, PhD, RN
VP of Nursing and Patient Care Services,
Johns Hopkins Hospital

After the baccalaureate or master’s degree, and after spending years moving from novice to expert, what next? Increasing numbers of Hopkins nurses are obtaining certification.

Many educated patients select a physician based on whether or not the person has “board certification.” Hospitals use board certification as one measure of who may be credentialed to practice on their medical staffs.

Certification encourages and recognizes professional achievement in a specialty area. It signifies attainment of a high level of knowledge, skills, and abilities. And it’s not just for physicians anymore!

To become certified, nurses must sit for a certification examination. These are offered by the professional organizations, (such as the Oncology Nursing Society), and by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Seeking certification is voluntary, although Johns Hopkins Hospital will reimburse nurses who successfully complete their initial certification for the costs of both the review course and the exam. In a number of areas, such as neuroscience and critical care, we are also offering the review courses on site.

Most of Hopkins’ certified nurses are intrinsically motivated, like Kris Mammen, RN, BS (a Nurse-Clinician III on Meyer 3), who recently told me that she entered nursing with the intention of specializing in psychiatric nursing. She felt is was important to challenge her own knowledge of the specialty, demonstrate her investment in the field, and assure herself that she was giving the best psychiatric nursing care. “What could be a better indication of excellence than to achieve certification?” she asked.

Hiring nurse-managers indicate that they would hire a certified nurse over a noncertified nurse if everything else was equal. To them, the certified nurse has documented expertise in a specialty, a proven knowledge base, and demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning.

Editor’s footnote: Karen Haller recently sat for the ANCC’s Certification in Administration, Advanced, and passed!

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