After pursuing a degree, finding different ways to continue to educate yourself can help you become even more knowledgeable about your field. Taking diverse avenues toward education is always excellent for instilling confidence in your skills and making yourself stand out from the crowd when applying to jobs.
Specifically, students and established nurses alike benefit greatly from strengthening their understanding of various areas of healthcare. One of the best ways to do this is by earning nursing certifications.
As a student, obtaining nursing certifications can help advance your career without requiring several years’ worth of time and money to pursue more degrees. These certifications can also further increase your value as a healthcare provider to patients.
What is a Nursing Certification?
A certifying board, be it state-specific or national, offers different certifications indicating that said person shows a certain level of competency in a particular healthcare field. Nursing certifications are an excellent tool for RNs to further their knowledge and healthcare career development.
Certifications Versus Certificates
While appearing similar in text, certifications and certificates are not the same. No professional entities or nursing boards issue any certificates. Although valuable in their own right, certificates are usually received when a nurse completes a specific course offered by an outside organization.
Certifications, on the other hand, require passing a test alongside several other requirements. When a nurse is successfully certified, they typically indicate this by adding the initials of the certification after their signature and other professional titles.
Why Should Nurses Get Certified?
Nurses can obtain certifications for several reasons, but the most prominent are to refine their skills in order to provide high-quality care to patients, and ultimately to further their career development.
Aside from knowledge, nursing certifications provide the opportunity to gain further experience in a healthcare specialty. Obtaining certification status shows healthcare employers a nurse’s level of dedication and commitment to the quality of their service.
These reasons alone make nurses with certifications more appealing for higher status positions in their chosen specialty. Gaining certifications can also help nurses become more of an authoritative voice in their workplace due to the increased knowledge and skills they offer.
Aside from workplace validation, many nurses certify themselves for personal reasons. Some find it extra satisfying to continually develop their healthcare skills, going above and beyond the perceived expectations. Former students who have particularly enjoyed attending nursing school may also choose to continue their education by obtaining certifications.
The Top 4 Online Nursing Certifications and Programs
Deciding which nursing certification is best for you depends on various factors, including your specialty, status as a student, and career goals. These factors differ between individuals. Some certifications stand out due to the experience and knowledge gained, as well as the time and investment required to obtain them.
The four nursing certifications and programs below represent a spectrum of different healthcare specialties. They are all available as 100% online courses, offering flexibility and accessibility to student nurses everywhere.
No matter which online program you choose, pursuing any certification will help you increase your overall knowledge and advance your nursing career. Keep reading to learn more about these online nursing certifications and programs.
Note: Each state has different regulations that govern how often clinicians need to be recertified after they take the original exam. Before pursuing any certification, it’s important you understand the regulations in your state or any state you may practice in.
Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)
The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PBCB) administers the Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) certification exam. This certification displays high competence and experience in the pediatric nursing specialty.
To obtain this certification, one must complete and pass an exam. The individual must also have either 1800 hours of experience in pediatric nursing within the last two years or 3000 hours of experience in pediatric nursing overall, with at least 1000 of those hours in the past two years.
While it was once offered exclusively in-person, the PBCB recently began an online examination option to obtain this certification as of 2021. They provided live remote testing as a convenient option at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering nurses the flexibility of where and how to test for credentials.
The exam costs $300 as of 2022, including a $100 non-refundable registration fee. Each retake of the exam costs $245 and is non-refundable. Nurses can only reapply after they obtain their previous PNCB exam results. If you are a member of the Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN), you will receive a $45 discount on your initial exam.
Recertification for this certification is annual. Students must meet all requirements to qualify for the recertification exam.
This nursing certification is valuable because it is helpful to serving a large part of the population. Since pediatric nursing is a widely applicable RN specialty, this certification is one of the most valuable nursing certifications obtainable.
Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) provides the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential. This certification verifies that the student has demonstrated exceptional knowledge and experience in emergency nursing.
No minimum number of hours is necessary to qualify to take this exam, and this CEN certification only requires passing the exam. The BCEN recommends at least two years of emergency nursing experience for a higher chance of passing the exam. Those who have less experience likely will not pass.
Similar to the CPN certification, the BCEN also offers a live remote exam proctoring option. Nurses can take the exam online as long as they have a computer with the following requirements:
- Stable internet connection
The BCEN also requires nurses to do a system check and a 360-degree room scan before the scheduled exam to ensure the testing environment is adequate and no cheating is involved.
The initial exam fee is $370. However, if students are currently serving or have served in the military, you are eligible for reimbursement and a discount of $195. If a retired nurse wishes to take the exam, the cost is $75. If the student passed the initial exam, all retests cost $340. Recertification exams cost $350.
All individuals must apply for recertification after four years to renew their CEN. Nurses can rectify this by completing 100 contact hours within their certification period or they take another exam. Emergency nursing is a demanding nursing specialty, so this certification may be especially desirable for healthcare providers.
Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Certification (ACLS)
Another important nursing certification is the ACLS, or the Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Certification. The American Medical Resource Institute (AMRI) provides this certification.
AN ACLS certification is designed to equip nurses with the knowledge and skills to care for patients suffering from problems related to cardiopulmonary emergencies. This certification furthers the common CPR certification. This is a useful certification not only for nurses but all healthcare providers.
The AMRI provides both online first-time and recertification exams. Over one million medical professionals have been certified as of 2021.
Taking this exam through AMRI comes with several perks including:
- Free instant ACLS card
- Free review and retake of the exam
- National accreditation
- Guaranteed acceptance
- Access to case study and training library
This online certification option provides the necessary flexibility for working nurses who may not have the time to go take a physical test as a specific location.
First-time certification for ACLS costs $275, and a retake of the exam is free. The certification is valid for two years. The online recertification exam costs $175.
Learning does not stop after school ends, and certifications like this can help ensure knowledge and skill accessibility for all nurses even after they’ve earned their first diploma.
Neonatal Resuscitation Certification (NRP)
Finally, the ACLS Certification Institute provides the Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP) certification course. The NRP certification teaches skills related to the emergency resuscitation of newborns and premature babies. This course lasts one day. At the end of the class, there is an exam administered. The NRP certification is valid for two years before students must take a renewal exam.
Through the ACLS, the nationally accredited NRP certification course offers a 100% online option. It costs $159. The course provides the following benefits:
- Neonatal resuscitation concept knowledge and interventions
- Knowledge of necessary components of newborn resuscitation, such as the correct sequence of actions
- Supporting the purpose and goals of the NRP provider status as designated through digital provider card
- Enhanced knowledge and teamwork skills to help reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality
There are no requirements needed to take this course. This certification is valid for two years. Once it expires, you must take a recertification course to keep the status. The recertification course costs approximately $143.
The NRP certification is excellent for nurses looking to work in labor and delivery and neonatal care units. It provides the necessary skills and knowledge for this healthcare specialty.
Which Online Nursing Certification Program is Best for You?
No matter your nursing specialty, it is always beneficial to seek out extra certifications when possible.
Nursing certifications are the perfect opportunity for pursuing professional development and continue to gain valuable knowledge outside of your initial degree. Certifications are not only an excellent way to feel confident in your abilities, but they are also a great way to prove your dedication to your healthcare employer.
Attaining nursing certifications can advance your career and increase your value in your chosen specialty, and these online program options are the perfect place to start. Explore the extensive resources the AMRI offers, and take your first step towards nursing certification today!
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