Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

How to Increase Your Value as a Nurse With Advanced Certifications

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Dec 16, 2017 7:42 PM

Americans have voted -- nurses were the most trusted profession in the United States in 2016. This isn't the first time this happened. Nurses traditionally get very high marks in polls which measure honesty and ethics in professions. In fact, 2016 was the fifteenth year in a row nurses came first. People trust them more than they trust medical doctors, college teachers, and engineers.

While this type of data shows that nurses are valued in the American society, it doesn't show what goes on behind the scenes. Nurses do a job that's physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. But they also have to constantly improve their knowledge and skills if they want to remain valuable to their patients as well as their employers.

In an industry like healthcare, where change is constant, quality improvement should be the norm. Nurses, as well as doctors, need to make sure that they stay on top of the latest developments that affect their specializations or job posts. If you're a nurse who wants to do more than just maintain value, however, you will have to do more.

How Does Education Help?

Gaining theoretical and practical knowledge is a value-adding pursuit, regardless of the field or profession you practice. The same logic that says that a software engineer, for example, increases their value by learning additional programming languages, applies to nursing as well. The more advanced knowledge you have, and the more specialized skills you learn, the more value you'll have to your patients and employers.

There are two ways you can expand your knowledge. You can earn degrees in nursing, which might be required if you want to pursue certain clinical specializations, and are usually required for nurses who want to rise to managerial positions.

The other way to gain the knowledge and skills that increase your value as a nurse is by gaining advanced certifications. Certifications demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills, and experience that allow you to practice certain procedures and work in certain fields. Getting advanced certifications is one of the most commonly recommended methods for advancement within the profession. It's also more convenient than going back to school.

Getting Advanced Certifications as Part of Career Advancement

Advanced certifications serve as proof of your value. Technically, the more certifications you get, the more valuable you are. But while you certainly can get as many certifications as possible, you might want to consider a more tactical approach.

If you work as a registered nurse, for example, you already have a BLS certification. Let's say you're interested in specializing in neurology. Your BLS will not suffice -- a prerequisite for working as a nurse in neurology is to also have an ACLS certification. In that case, adding value to yourself as a nurse is a part of your professional development in the sense that it allows you to move to a different position. Actually, adding value by pursuing an ACLS certification is the easier part of making a career advancement. You can attend the course and be certified for ACLS online, but the practical part of becoming a nurse specialized in neurology will require you to work as an RN in the field for thousands of hours.

Advanced Certification and Motivation

It's important that you remain motivated on your road to increasing your value as a nurse. A nurse who specializes in neurology, for example, isn't always required to have a Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse credential to be able to work with neurological patients. However, passing and maintaining a CNRN exam will be beneficial to you and your patients.

There are certain barriers that can make it harder for you to pursue advanced certification. Courses and tests can get costly. You might not get enough support from your employers. Or, you just might not have the time. There are also some things that you can do to increase the likelihood of pursuing an advanced certification. Joining a professional organization for nurses is a good idea, as is talking to your colleagues who are more diligent in their pursuit of advanced certification.

Nursing is one of the most customer-oriented professions. Your patients are your customers. Their wellbeing is in your hands, day in day out. Your quest for increasing your value as a nurse has a primary goal of serving your patients better. Advanced certifications are an improvement that can lead to better patient outcomes, so setting some time and funds aside to get certified is a worthy pursuit.

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