When you pursue a career in nursing, generally speaking, you are becoming more than just a “nurse.” You are becoming a Registered Nurse, or a Pediatric Nurse, a Critical Care Nurse, or a Nurse Practitioner. The list goes on, and that’s the beauty of the nursing field. Because there are so many different facets of healthcare, nurses have an array of opportunities – both vocational and educational – upon entering the field. Not only can nurses pursue specific specializations in their line of work, they can also earn a multitude of advanced certifications to demonstrate their expertise.
We’ve already outlined the different types of nursing careers available to aspiring RNs, but what are the different types of nursing certifications that RNs can obtain with licensure? And what is the benefit of pursuing an advanced nursing certification as a licensed Registered Nurse? Let’s start with the latter.
The Benefits of Advanced Nursing Certifications
Nursing certifications are created by, or sponsored by, professional associations and credentialing organizations like the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). They are nationally recognized, no matter the state or employer, and can carry over to any role that you pursue.
The core advantage to pursuing a specific nursing certification is that it exhibits professionalism, competence, and commitment to the field. It also can represent a higher-level of patient care, and benefit a nurse’s patients and their families, according to the AACN. All this, in turn, is attractive to employers and can ultimately lead to broader career opportunities for a certified RN.
What Types of Nursing Certifications Can You Pursue as a Registered Nurse?
After becoming a Registered Nurse, you may decide that one area of nursing or healthcare appeals to you most. Maybe you enjoy working with children or families. Maybe you wish to work in cancer research, or help orthopedic surgeons and their patients. Fact is, you can get certified in just about any interest area – as there are more than 180 different types of nursing certifications out there (and 168 nursing certifications that are currently available to obtain). Below Goodwin College outlines five of the most common (and essential) certifications in nursing.
This is a broad one, but perhaps the most common and core credential you can come across in nursing. When you see “RN-BC” after a nurse’s name, it means that he or she has achieved an RN license as well as board certification (hence, BC) in a specialty. Specialties can range from Mental Health Nursing to Gerontological Nursing, Case Management to Pain Management Nursing, and all that falls in between. Board-certified nurses can be found across the healthcare field, in health clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, private practices, and more.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center awards the RN-BC designation. To pursue this certification, an RN must have two years of work experience, 2,000 hours in the given specialty, as well as 30 hours of ongoing education (such as through a BSN degree program).
A CPN is a Certified Pediatric Nurse that has significant experience working with infants, children, adolescents, and their families. They are known to provide evidence-based and family-centered care in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, private practices, public health agencies, and special needs daycare centers. Today, there are more than 25,000 nurses with an active CPN certification, according to the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).
If you have an interest in working with children, a CPN certification can help you stand out to employers and in your career. To be eligible for this type of nursing certification, you must achieve:
- 1,800+ hours of pediatric clinical experience, completed within the last 24 months as an RN, or
- At least 5 years of experience in Registered Nursing and 3,000 hours in pediatrics within the last 5 years (with 1,000 hours completed in the last 2 years)
In 2018, it is estimated that more than 1,735,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States. And according to government sources, by the year 2030, the number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 23.6 million. The need for specialized Oncology nurses, as a result, is growing.
The OCN nursing certification stands for Oncology Certified Nurse. Offered through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC), a Registered Nurse can earn this title by completing:
- A minimum of two years of experience as an RN (within four years of applying)
- At least 2,000 hours of adult oncology practice within the last four years
- 10+ contact hours of continuing nursing education in oncology
The ACRN certification is highly-valued in the nursing field, as it provides formal recognition of a nurse’s HIV/AIDS knowledge and capabilities. Officially, the ACRN title is awarded to an Aids Certified Registered Nurse, by the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) and the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board (HANCB). To become an Aids Certified RN, you:
- Must be currently licensed as a Registered Nurse in the United States (or have the international equivalent)
- Should have at least two years of experience in the clinical practice, education, management, or research related to HIV/AIDS nursing (though this is not required)
- Complete and pass the Certification Examination in HIV/AIDS Nursing
Another frequently-pursued type of nursing certification is the Family Nurse Practitioner Certification (FNP-BC), offered through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification. This credential is designed to show a nurse’s competency in diagnosing illness, assessing patient needs, and administering care across the family dynamic. To obtain this level of nursing certification, you must have a Master’s in Nursing (whereas the other certifications only require an associate or bachelor’s nursing degree).
In the field of nursing, the world (of certifications) is truly your oyster. After completing your degree from an accredited nursing school, and after logging hours of experience as a licensed RN, you have the opportunity to concentrate your career in a range of specializations.
To learn more about the different types of nursing certifications available today, head over to Nurse.org. To learn how to launch your career in nursing – through an accredited nursing program – please do not hesitate to reach out to Goodwin College at 800-889-3282. You may also visit us online to learn more.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.