If you are looking to increase your earning power as a nurse, enhance your career and add to your job satisfaction, continuing your education can help you get there. Getting certified in a particular area can help you earn more money, add to your professional reputation and improve the quality of care for your patients.
Study after study has proven the benefits of continuing education. One survey showed that nurses holding a specialty certification earn almost $13 an hour more than those who do not. Other research showed that among all nurses, those who are certified in a specialty reported making roughly $9,000 a year more than those were are not certified.
Facilities also benefit from additional nurse certification and education. An acute care medical unit in Virginia, part of a 750-bed medical center, increased the number of nurses with certification 60 percent in one year. This led to decreased turnover and vacancy rates, and increased satisfaction of patients. Moreover, nurse satisfaction with teamwork, participation in decision making and professional development all improved.
Surveys of nurses who earned a certification showed that they had a sense of personal accomplishment and professional credibility. Nurse manager ratings showed a high value on nursing certification.
There are many areas in which nurses can become certified. Specialty areas include ambulatory care, cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes management, high-risk perinatal, community health, pediatric, pain management, gerontology, case management, guided care and medical-surgical.
A case management certificate, for example, enables a nurse to work as a case manager for patients with severe injuries or illnesses, ensuring all of their healthcare needs are met. It is a specialty found in all healthcare facilities. A geriatric care management certificate enables a nurse to work as a geriatric care manager, assessing, coordinating and monitoring the health of elderly clients.
Many certification programs are available online. Health Providers Choice provides more than 400 continuing education courses online, all of them free.
There are eligibility requirements for the certification courses, however. For example, to participate in the ambulatory care training, a nurse needs to hold a current, active RN license, have practiced the equivalent of two years full time as a Registered Nurse, have at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice in ambulatory care within the last three years and have completed 30 hours of continuing education in ambulatory care within the last three years.