I remember the first time I ever heard of a RN being certified – I would love to say it was before I became a RN (and maybe it actually was). The first time I REMEMBER hearing about it, I was working as a RN on a busy, urban, L&D unit. I met this incredible clinical nurse specialist named Carol Burke. Carol had a passion for placentas that was admirable – I wanted to be like Carol when I grew up. When Carol offered a free certification review for staff RNs in OB/PP, I started thinking more about this certification thing . . .
The prep, the reading, the practice questions – don’t get me wrong, they were all worthy parts of the process. But it was not until after I achieved certification, years later really, that I understood the value.
At the time, as a RN in Illinois, there were not State requirements for continuing education. Although I have always loved learning, time has a way of escaping you. You realize the last conference you attended was 18 months (5 years, whatever) ago. While there was not a mechanism in place to require CE for my licensure, certification changed this.
All certifying bodies have requirements. My nursing certifications are through the National Certification Corporation (NCC). NCC is the primary certifying body for RNs in OB/NICU nursing and Advanced Practice Nursing. Although their process has changed quite a bit over the years, the message stays the same: certified RNs need to stay current and evidence-based. Check out the one minute public awareness campaign called “Just Ask” from NCC: http://www.nccwebsite.org/justask.aspx.
The q three year assessment I take for my certifications pushes me to seek education in areas I may not choose on my own. It highlights areas for improvement and then, well, makes you address it! The first time NCC rolled out their “assessments” and subsequent assigned CE based on scoring – I was embarrassed! I knew what my
areas of weakness opportunities for learning were, but to have them in writing felt so vulnerable. Since NCC has adopted the assessment process, I have come to love being certified. The assessments are not intimidating anymore – I look forward to seeing how I have improved in areas, and where I can turn my attention for further growth. Being certified has helped me become a more well-rounded RN within my specialties, and has provided some framework with where to go. Nursing is life long learning and growth – certification can guide the way.