There are a variety of certifications you can get once you are a true blue RN. The certification that I have started studying for is my Critical Care RN (CCRN). These tests are geared towards your area of expertise...and you need to know just about everything there is to know about it! This will make you a much smarter and, therefore, safer nurse! Work towards these when you are done with nursing school.

“What do all the extra letters after your name mean?”

This question may come up if someone sees a nurse’s badge.

The most common letters will be R.N. These letters indicate the nurse has successfully completed an educational program and passed a national exam to become a registered nurse. Some letters indicate an educational degree, such as BSN (Bachelor of Science in nursing), ADN (associate degree in nursing) or MSN (Master of Science in nursing). Others might indicate advanced practice preparation, as for nurse practitioners, such as FNP (family nurse practitioner), WHNP (women’s health nurse practitioner), CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist), CNM (certified nurse-midwife) or others. These also indicate licensure in their state.

“OK, what about those other letters?”

There is another category of letters displaying that the nurse has a certification, such as CGRN (certified gastroenterology registered nurse), CPAN (certified post-anesthesia nurse), CEN (certified emergency nurse), CNOR (certified nurse operating room), CMSRN (certified medical-surgical registered nurse) or CCRN (critical care registered nurse). A nursing certification is something the nurse seeks to obtain above licensure.

According to the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification, a certification is “the formal recognition of the specialized knowledge, skills and experience demonstrated by the achievement of standards identified by a nursing specialty to promote optimal health outcomes. After meeting defined eligibility criteria, a certification candidate achieves a nationally recognized

credential through successful completion of a rigorous examination.” Plus, nurses are able to experience personal growth – a way to choose a specialty they feel called to and be even more satisfied in their work.

Certified Nurses Day is March 19. This is a national day to honor and recognize the important achievement of nursing certification. March 19 honors the birthday of the late Margretta “Gretta” Madden Styles. Styles designed the first comprehensive study of nurse credentialing in the 1970s. According to the American Nurses Association, Styles “was a nurse scholar who was renowned nationally and globally as a leader in nursing education, credentialing and international nursing.” The American Nurses Credentialing Center and the ANA worked together in 2008 to create Certified Nurses Day, gaining support from leading nursing organizations and governments, including Congress.

There have been numerous studies to show that nursing certification has positive implications for patients. Certification has been linked to fewer medical errors and a decrease in 30-day mortality rates. Certified nurses report increased job satisfaction and confidence. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses stated in 2002: “What we have always intuitively suspected to be true – that having the right mix of experienced nurses is a key factor in achieving optimal patient outcomes – has now been supported by rigorous research. Hospitals that create a culture of professionalism, respect and retention-including support for continuing education and certification-are more likely to have the optimal supply and mix of experienced nurses to assure patient safety.”

Certified nurses have chosen to become certified to further their knowledge, education and skills. Through certification, they have dedicated themselves to lifelong learning to maintain and renew their specialty certification. So this March 19, if you know a certified nurse, thank him or her for a commitment to the specialized area of nursing practice.

Nicole Marks, is a registered nurse and nurse educator in the Intensive Care Unit at Providence St. Patrick Hospital.

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AuthorCourtney Tracy