It’s becoming more and more common for Nurse Practitioners to seek additional specialty certifications, and for good reason – they are basically a win-win, as not only the NPs but their employers and patients benefit as well. By becoming certified in a specialty or subspecialty NPs establish clinical competence, validate their skills and expertise, and position themselves for advancement, recognition, and personal growth and satisfaction. 

Specialty Certification Can Enhance Patient Care

NPs that have been certified in a particular area have a higher level of expertise and have refined their assessment skills, so they are equipped to recognize some of the nuances and more subtle signs and symptoms of their patients. They can develop plans of care for their patients with the most up-to-date methods of treatment and care and can offer high-quality and innovative patient education as they are well-versed in the very latest standards and skills in the specialty. With a growing awareness that NPs can be certified, patient trust and satisfaction is strengthened as well, as they can expect to receive the highest standard of care.

Specialty Certification Can Increase Career Opportunities

Becoming certified can boost career mobility and open doors that you might not have otherwise making you stand out and move your application ahead. Employers realize that specialty certifications are an indicator that a candidate has a certain level of skill in an area and is dedicated to that specialty area. They show a level of expertise that meets national standards and demonstrate initiative to seek additional educational opportunities and resources, particularly in our constantly changing healthcare environment. When an NP has a certification, employers have a great assurance that they are getting the skills they are asking for. Certification is a way for employers to differentiate themselves from their competitors and show that they have the highest-skilled and competent patient care team, and those that support specialty certification are positioned to succeed in the exceedingly competitive healthcare market. Employers also recognize that employing certified staff can result in more referrals, as other healthcare providers can appreciate the thoroughness and rigor that is necessary to prep for and pass a specialty certification exam and it can influence referral patterns. Some employers will offer incentives to become specialized with certification bonuses, or may even help with or cover the cost of prep materials and exams. 

Specialty Certification Can Increase Your Salary

NPs that are certified specialists can reap the benefits in the way of higher salaries. A 2018 survey indicated that holders of specialty certifications earned an average of 23% more than non-certified colleagues. This may be because certified NPs are often viewed as being able to take on more responsibility, which leads to career advancement and opportunity. 

Specialty Certification Can Bolster Personal Satisfaction

Nurse Practitioners that become certified validate their expertise, knowledge, and skills and place themselves in a position for recognition, career advancement, and a sense of confidence and accomplishment. A whopping 98% of certified NPs report more self-esteem and confidence in their clinical abilities after certification, because by that confirmation of their skills, they can make decisions with greater assurance and are likely to feel fulfilled from a supportive workplace where they are respected and feel a sense of gratification. Through the certification renewal process continued learning is promoted that creates a basis for professional vigor and lifelong learning. Certified NPs report they feel confident they are delivering the highest level of care based on the most up-to-date best-practice guidelines. Continuing education decreases an NPs exposure to risk and better prepares them to make knowledgeable decisions, that can improve patient safety and provides an innovative edge. Certification is an instrument to validate their commitment of providing the best possible care for patients and achieve their career goals. 

If you are considering pursuing a certification, there are many reasons to take that path. It’s never too early or too late to seek advanced education. More and more practices and hospitals are requiring specialty certifications in order to even consider a candidate.