Why We Celebrate Certified Nurses

By Lindsey N. Green (she/her), DNP, MN, APRN-CNS, CCNS, RNC-NIC Feb 27, 2024

Added to Collection

When it comes to celebrating Certified Nurses Day, the most important aspect is to participate!

In honor of Certified Nurses Day, on March 19, let’s recognize and celebrate the invaluable contributions of certified nursing professionals. As we commemorate the dedication and expertise of nurses who have chosen to elevate their knowledge through certification, learn about the importance of certification and explore the profound impact certified nursing professionals make on patients and families, other nurses and the organizations where they work.

This blog will expand upon the content of the “Value of Certification” blog in Daily Nurse to provide additional meaningful recognition in honor of Certified Nurses Day. This narrative emphasizes the value of Certified Nurses Day, shedding light on the benefits derived from the commitment to professional certification. Valuable resources are available for nurses considering certification throughout this blog, so be sure to click on the links.

The Role of Certified Nurses

Nursing certification is highly regarded and comes in many forms. Beyond entry-level licensure to practice nursing, specialty certification serves as a mark of distinction and validation of the knowledge, expertise and qualifications to provide the associated nursing care. For advanced practice nurses, certification in an advanced practice role and the population they serve is required for APRN recognition and/or licensure by a state board of nursing. Certification indicates that the nurse achieved a validation of their knowledge, expertise and commitment to patient safety.

The increasingly complex patient-care needs in the healthcare delivery system require specialized knowledge to achieve safe, high-quality patient care. Nursing certification validates, recognizes and provides ongoing support for the specialty knowledge of nurses who deliver this care. Certified nursing professionals provide tremendous value in all areas of nursing practice, including clinical, educational, administrative, quality, regulatory and leadership.

Why Celebrate Certified Nurses Day

The purpose of Certified Nurses Day is to recognize and highlight the successes and efforts of certified nursing professionals. Certified Nurses Day raises awareness of the nursing profession through celebrations at colleges, universities, hospital systems and healthcare organizations throughout the world.

The benefits of specialty certification for nurses, patients and organizations are well known. Recognizing the achievements of certified nursing professionals can inspire others to achieve a designation of excellence in their practice and connect with resources to be successful in their certification journey. Celebrating and promoting awareness of specialty-nursing certification brings more nurses into the certification fold, which benefits the entire healthcare system.

Historical Background

Nurses have been validating their clinical care knowledge and expertise through certification for three-quarters of a century. In 1945, the first nursing specialty certification in the United States was established to validate the clinical expertise of nurse anesthetists. Certification boards were formed in the 1960s, to recognize excellence in nursing practice and provide an organized effort to elevate the standards of competence for all nurses. Nursing has a strong foundation, and certification is a major piece that continues to enrich the profession.

While nurses continued to gain knowledge and expertise throughout the 20th century, further defining their value in the delivery of safe, quality patient care, the demand for certification grew and the number of certified nurses making an impact on patients, teams, organizations, communities and themselves grew as well. Today, according to the American Board of Nursing Specialties, over 180 certifications are available to nurses across the world who seek to validate their knowledge and expertise.

In order to recognize the efforts and impact of certified nurses on healthcare in America, Certified Nurses Day was established on March 19 in honor of Margretta (Gretta) Madden Styles, PhD, MSN. Styles is credited as an architect of nursing credentialing through the comprehensive research she conducted during her distinguished career. Certified Nurses Day is celebrated worldwide as healthcare systems across the globe have endorsed the importance of certified nurses in regard to improved morale, professionalism, patient satisfaction and patient outcomes.

Recognizing Nursing Achievements

There is broad agreement among the nursing community that certification adds personal value to the nursing profession. According to a recent study, the top five value items associated with nursing certification are that it enhances personal accomplishment; provides personal satisfaction; validates specialized knowledge; indicates strong commitment to the profession; and indicates professional growth.

Nurses who feel a sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction, and who are committed to their profession, not only perform their job better, they inspire others to do the same. Certified nurses also present tremendous value to their organizations. The benefits of certified nurses extend beyond themselves and even beyond nursing. The presence of certified nurses adds value to every part of the healthcare system, especially patients and families.

Research shows the value of certified nurses to their healthcare organizations. This value is evident in both patient outcomes and staff experience. With regard to team dynamics, morale and overall experience, certified nurses report higher job satisfaction. Certified nurses also increase patient safety and improve clinical outcomes in several ways. First, having certified nurses helps lower rates of infection. Second, hospitals with a higher proportion of certified nurses have lower odds of patient mortality and failure to rescue. Last, studies have shown that certified nurses make fewer medical errors, which improves not only the organization’s bottom line, but also makes the organization safer, and patients safer.

Celebrating Certified Nurses Day

When it comes to celebrating Certified Nurses Day, the most important aspect is to participate! There is no one-size-fits-all approach to celebrating the contributions of certified nurses in your organization, but taking time to recognize and appreciate certified nurses will show them your organization values their professionalism and will inspire nurses who are not yet certified to earn this badge of honor.

If you are a certified nurse reading this blog, know that it is important to take time and CELEBRATE YOURSELF! Celebrate your personal achievement of earning and renewing certification, and reward yourself for going above and beyond.

Ideas to consider when celebrating Certified Nurses Day include the following:

  • Publicly recognize certified nurses - Consider announcing the names of certified nurses in your workplace. Send social media posts highlighting certified nurses you know. Share your experiences with AACN!
  • Make recognition stand out - Hang posters recognizing your unit’s or hospital’s certified nurses. Contact your local print and television media outlets about a story on Certified Nurses Day and the impact of certified nurses.
  • Personalize recognition - Create personalized cards thanking certified nurses for their dedication. Offer stickers or badges certified nurses can wear, and invite questions from nurses who have not started their certification journey yet.
  • Make it special - Consider inspiring and commemorative gifts for certified nurses. Make sure they can use the gifts in the unit (e.g., water bottles, tote bags, pens, badge lanyards) so that they can show their pride in achieving certification.

Educational Pathways to Certification

If you are not on the certification journey and want to add credentials that recognize your specialty knowledge, now is the time! Consider this your personal invitation. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Explore your certification options - Learn about the certifications of nurses you know and respect in your organization and beyond. Ask them how they got certified and what organization manages their certification.
  • " Check with your nursing association - Explore what certifications are recommended by your specialty nursing organization.
  • Connect with someone who is already certified - Ask someone who has been through the process about their certification journey and what steps are essential to becoming a certified nurse.
  • Talk with your employer - Identify resources and possible incentives your organization offers nurses who are pursuing and maintaining certification.

Preparation for Certification

After deciding to achieve specialty certification, you need to develop a plan and timeline. To select the certification that best fits your specialty knowledge and practice, it is important to review the descriptions, eligibility and test plans for each exam, as well as the certifying organization’s resources that will support your continued learning and practice. The next step is to set a date to have earned your certification, then plot your timeline backward while being sure to include dedicated time for studying or attending review courses and taking practice exams. Look for easy-to-use and cost-effective online resources such as AACN practice exams. By following a plan, you give yourself a strong opportunity to meet your goal of becoming a certified nurse!

Promoting Professional Development

After you have studied and passed your exam, your work is not done. Nursing organizations promote lifelong learning through specialty certifications that expect focused education in certain practice areas to continually enhance specialty knowledge. Lifelong learning means not only that you work toward maintaining your certification throughout your career but that you continually seek ways to learn and grow as a professional to enhance your practice. Review your certification renewal criteria, and develop a timeline to maintain your certification. Factors in your certification renewal timeline could include when you need to take continuing education (CE) classes and how many you need. It could also include expanding your knowledge as it relates to your particular practice and specialty recognized through certification.

Professional development is more than an expectation of certification organizations, or something that excellent nurses should expect for themselves; it is also an expectation of our patients! Harris polling research notes that 89% of adults in the United States believe it is very important for healthcare professionals to attend educational programs throughout their careers to refresh their knowledge and learn about the latest scientific evidence and new technologies.

About Certified Nurses Day

Certified Nurses Day is a worldwide day of recognition that celebrates nursing specialty, subspecialty and advanced practice certification - and a perfect opportunity to thank certified nurses for their dedication, achievement and deep commitment to patient safety and lifelong learning.

On March 19 and throughout the rest of the year, AACN joins in celebrating nurses who have made the commitment and demonstrated their dedication to lifelong learning and clinical excellence by achieving and renewing specialty nursing certifications. Supporting nursing professionals on their journey to pursue and maintain certification is of utmost importance to AACN.

Find inspiration and resources to join us in celebrating certified nursing professionals on AACN’s Certified Nurses Day 2024 website.

How will you motivate yourself and others to get certified?

I acknowledge and thank my co-authors, Denise Buonocore, MSN, ACNPC, CCNS, ANP, CCRN, CHFN, Certification Practice Supervisor, and Cindi Noe, MSN, RN, ICE-CCP, Certification Practice Specialist, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, for contributing to the development of this blog.