Like other professionals, nurses who are already highly skilled have various opportunities to grow in their careers by pursuing further education. Nurses can develop their knowledge and skills through certification. Earning an advanced degree can help nurses to specialize their focus on a specific area, such as adult-gerontology acute care or family care. Nurses who want to expand their career horizons and add to their competencies can consider pursuing an online Master of Science in Nursing.
What Is Nursing Certification?
A state license gives nurses the legal authority to practice their professions; certification enables licensed nurses to demonstrate the advanced knowledge and skills needed to practice in a specialized area of healthcare.
After completing the required credits and clinical hours for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, nurses can qualify for roles such as family nurse practitioner (FNP), adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP) and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP).
Nursing students pursuing an MSN to become an FNP are eligible for the following organizations’ FNP certification exams:
- American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
- American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
Nursing students pursuing an MSN to become an AGACNP are eligible for the following organizations’ AGACNP certification exams:
- American Nurses Credentialing Center (acute and primary care)
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (acute care only)
Nursing students pursuing an MSN to become a PMHNP are eligible for the certification exam from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
The Benefits of Nursing Certification
Employers look for advanced practice nurses who specialize in certain areas to fill positions in their healthcare facilities, and certification provides nurses with greater opportunities to work in their areas of interest.
Benefits for Nurses
Employers want nurses to become certified for a few reasons, and since attaining certification is not a simple task, nurses can prove their dedication to their practice by doing so. Most organizations that offer certification require certified nurses to complete a recertification process every three to five years, depending on the organization. Fulfilling these requirements allows nurses to enhance their knowledge and skills, stay on top of trends, and learn about changes in nursing and healthcare.
Benefits for Employers
Employing certified nurses can increase a hospital’s level of credibility and prestige. Additionally, when more nurses have higher education levels and certification, their medical facilities can become Magnet-recognized, a status granted by the ANCC. Magnet recognition helps an organization gain the respect of the public, as well as other healthcare organizations, and attract more patients.
Benefits for Patients
The benefits of nursing certification also extend to patients. For example, it can help to cultivate a greater level of trust between the nurse and the patient. FNPs can promote their certification while working with families. AGACNPs can also promote their credentials as nurses who are certified to work in acute care.
According to the American Board of Nursing Specialties, “Healthcare consumers should be knowledgeable of the qualifications and credentials of the registered nurses caring for them.” Patients will feel more at ease and will more easily trust their nurses when they see that they’re experts in the field.
How MSN Programs Prepare Nurses for Certification
Nurses pursue MSN degrees to deepen their knowledge of specialized subjects, such as adult-gerontology acute care, family care, psychiatric mental health, nurse leadership, forensic nursing and nurse education. In addition to enhancing their skills, graduate courses can prepare nurses to become certified to practice in their chosen area of healthcare.
The MSN curriculum is designed to prepare nurses for the certification process. Core courses teach topics that appear on exams, such as:
- Evidence-based practice
- Contemporary nursing foundations
- Healthcare policy
Students in master’s programs also complete clinical hours in which they enhance their nursing skills and discipline to be lifelong learners. Additionally, they have access to information through online libraries, conferences and conversations with nurse educators. Courses and clinicals help nurses build their advanced leadership, critical thinking, communication and analytical skills.
Pursue an Advanced Nursing Career
Duquesne University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program can help students master essential competencies. The university’s advanced nursing program offers FNP, AGACNP and PMHNP specializations.
- FNP nursing students take courses such as Clinical Prevention and Population-Based Health Promotion; Healthcare Ethics in Practice and Policy; and Foundations of Family Care: Infants, Children and Adolescents.
- AGACNP nursing students take courses such as Foundations of Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Practice, Evidence-Based Nursing Practice and Policy Development, Healthcare Ethics in Practice and Policy, and Pathophysiology for Advanced Practice Nursing.
- PMHNP nursing students take courses such as Psych/Mental Health Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Practice Nursing; Individual, Group and Family Therapies Across the Lifespan; and Clinical Prevention and Population-Based Health Promotion.
The MSN program can help graduate students better understand the benefits of nursing certification as they take advanced courses and complete their clinicals. Learn more about how specializing as an FNP, AGACNP or PMHNP can prepare nurses to pursue their professional goals.
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board, About AANPCB
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Certification Benefits Patients, Employers and Nurses
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Value of Certification
American Board of Nursing Specialties, “A Position Statement on the Value of Specialty Nursing Certification”
ANCC, “Why Become an ANCC Magnet Recognized Organization?”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners