Nursing Certifications

By: Teri M. Chenot, Ed.D, RN
Associate Professor of Nursing at Jacksonville University School of Nursing

It is critical that nurse executives promote a highly-skilled nursing workforce in their organizational strategic plan which can have an end-result of positive patient health outcomes (ANCC, 2009, p. 4; Ridge, 2008, p. 52). Nursing specialty certification serves as a driving force to attain that goal. The American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) was formed in 1991 to create uniformity in nursing certification and to increase public awareness of the value of certification (ABNS, 2006). The organization defines nursing specialty certification as the “formal recognition of specialized knowledge, skills, and experience demonstrated by the achievement of standards identified by a nursing specialty to promote optimal health outcomes” (ABNS, 2009). Various criteria among nursing specialty certification programs may differ, however, the mandates usually consist of education and experience along with an examination. Recertification requirements are generally experience and continuing education specific to the specialty area (Miller & Boyle, 2008, p. 10).

A majority of nurse executives have indicated they support the benefits of certification and lead the way within their organizations to promote certification (ABNS, 2006). Nurse leaders can role model the importance of certification by meeting the eligibility criteria for the Nurse Executive credentials (ANCC, 2012a; ANCC, 2012b; AONE, 2012; Miller & Boyle, 2008, p. 16). There are other various strategies to promote certification such as financial incentives and staff recognition at Nurses Week events (Miller & Boyle, 2008, p. 16; Ridge, 2008, p. 52; Seaman & Bernstein, 2010, p. 31).

In summary, healthcare organizations with an in-depth nursing knowledge base across specialties are in a better position to attract patients, medical practitioners with a commitment to quality outcomes, and staff interested in nursing workforce development (Miller & Boyle, 2008, p. 16). There are several positive organizational outcomes for hospitals that promote certification which include the growth of certified nurse experts, patient education, and quality improvement initiatives (Miller & Boyle, 2008, p. 16). Nurse executives can lead the way on the exciting journey for certifications to raise the bar on nursing excellence for their health care organization which will result in a win-win situation for both the patients and the healthcare workforce.


American Board of Nursing Specialties. (2009). FAQ. Retrieved from on 3/5/12.

American Board of Nursing Specialties (2006). Value of specialty nurse certification survey – executive summary. Retrieved from on 3/15/12.

American Nurses Credentialing Center (2009). Nursing excellence. Your journey. Our passion. Retrieved from on 3/5/12.

American Nurses Credentialing Center (2012a). Nurse executive certification eligibility criteria. Retrieved from on 3/5/12.

American Nurses Credentialing Center (2012b). Nurse executive – advanced certification eligibility criteria. Retrieved from on 3/5/12.

American Organization of Nurse Executives (2012). Certified in executive nursing practice (CENP) and certified nurse manager and leader (CNML). Retrieved from on 3/5/12.

Miller, P. A., & Boyle, D. K. (2008). Nursing specialty certification: A measure of expertise. Nursing Management, 39(10), 10-16.

Ridge, R. (2008). Nursing certification as a workforce strategy.Nursing Management, 39(8) 50-52.

Seaman, M., & Bernstein, A. (2010). Let’s get certified: An innovative national campaign. Nurse Leader 8(6), 31-36.

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