Who Needs Post-Master’s Certification?
When it comes to the nursing profession, the word “certification” means you have passed an exam certifying that you have achieved certain professional competencies and skills to perform your job. It is required for some nursing specialties and optional for others.
For instance, you must be certified to work as an advanced practice nurse such as a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist.
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Certification is an option for nurses in other specialties such as ambulatory care, home health, gerontology, pain management, critical care, and even nurse executives and informatics specialists. Being certified is not usually required to hold a job in these types of specialties, but it may be desired by an employer if you are in a leadership or management position.
Nurses who typically need certifications in their specialties also hold a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN). This is a graduate degree that prepares nurses for expanded professional roles. New graduates need to initially take a certification exam and demonstrate competencies specific to their scope of practice.
Once in practice, recertification is necessary on a periodic basis. This may require verifying your licensure and membership in a professional organization, documenting professional development activities, and taking continuing education credits.
Check your professional nursing specialty association or the following sites for certification information:
The American Nurses Credentialing Center
National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
American College of Nurse-Midwives
National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists