Credentialing: Why it is Important for Nurses
IN A NUTSHELL:
- Nurses need to have verified credentials
- Helps identify knowledge and skillsets
- Certification important aspect of credentialing
Credentialing is often thought of being beneficial only for physicians, however it has a strong importance for nurses as well. Credentialing can help to advance a nurse’s career by recognizing achievements and encouraging more professional growth.
Credentialing can offer the following benefits for nurses and their patients:
- Career advancement
- Meet the needs of employers by reducing administrative burden
- Pinpoint unique skillsets
- Identify an important or highly sought-after knowledge base
- Assure patients the nurse has met standards of practice
- Demonstrate a nurse’s commitment to their job
- Provide a nurse with a sense of professional accomplishment
A big part of credentialing specific to a nurse is certification. CEU credits are of course important for license renewal and the knowledge they inherently provide. Nurses often acquire certification specific to their scope of practice to continue their education and demonstrate their knowledge and skill set. Certification is also associated with improved patient outcomes due to the ability of a nurse to utilize expanded skills within a course of treatment.
When they are credentialed, a nurse is able to showcase their certification to an employer which increases their value as an employee. The American Board of Nursing Specialties defines certification as “the formal recognition of specialized knowledge, skills, and experience demonstrated by achievement of standards identified by a nursing specialty to promote optimal health outcomes.”
Research show nurse managers opt to hire certified nurses rather than nurses who do not have any certification. Managers consider certified nurses to have a proven knowledge base in specialty practice and an enhanced ability to function in complex patient care situations.
Certification continues to benefit a nurse beyond increasing their chances of employment. Nurses who are certified in a specialty earn an average of nearly $10,000 more per year than those who aren’t, according to the “Nursing 2011 Salary and Benefits Survey Report.” The report also found that more than 30% of facilities pay the fees involved with a nurse becoming certified in a particular specialty.
Once a nurse has completed their education, received their degree, and completed their certification in a particular specialty it is time to be credentialed. Similar to CEU credit requirements, credentialing for nurses can vary depending upon the state in which they are working in. On legal documents, nurses must use the credentials required by the state for the nurse’s area of practice. If not properly managed, credentialing can pose a problem particularly for travel nurses.
In light of this issue, professional organizations are taking steps to standardize credentialing for nurses. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association. The ANCC’s preferred order for nursing credentials is:
- Highest Degree Earned
- Licensure: Licensure credentials include registered nurse (RN) and licensed practical nurse (LPN).
- State Designations or Requirements: State designations or requirements signify the nurse practices at a more advanced level in the state. Examples of these credentials include APRN (advanced practice registered nurse), NP (nurse practitioner) and CNS (clinical nurse specialist).
- National Certifications: National certifications are awarded through accredited certifying bodies such as the ANCC, including the RN-BC (Registered Nurse-Board Certified) and FNP-BC (Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified).
- Awards and Honors: Awards and honors recognize outstanding achievements in nursing, such as FAAN (Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing) and FCCM (Fellow of Critical Care Medicine).
- Other Recognitions: Other certifications include non-nursing certifications that recognize skills, such as EMT-Basic/EMT (awarded by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) and BELS (Board-Certified Editor for the Life Sciences).
According to the ANCC, if there is more than one type of the same nursing credential, nurses should consider listing them in order of relevance to their practice or in the order they were obtained. If a nurse obtained multiple educational degrees, nurses should list the highest degree or the most relevant degree first.
Common Nursing Degrees, Licenses, and Credentials:
LPN: A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) provides basic medical care under the supervision of doctors or RNs. To become an LPN, a certificate or diploma is required, which takes one to two years to complete. The median annual wage for LPNs is $43,170 and employment of LPNs is expected to increase 16 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
RN: A Registered Nurse (RN_ is involved in all aspects of patient care and works in one of many specialties. To become an RN, at least an associate degree is required, although a bachelor’s degree is becoming the standard minimum education requirement. The median annual wage for RNs is $67,490 and employment of RNs is expected to increase 16 percent by 2024, according to the BLS.
APRN: An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) is a nurse that earns their Master’s of Science in Nursing. This gives a nurse expanded career opportunities. They are able to work independently or with physicians, according to the BLS. They are able to perform all of the duties of an RN as well as more extensive tasks like ordering and evaluating test results, referring patients to specialists and diagnosing and treating ailments. The four types of APRNs include nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, certified nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists.
CNA: A Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) is technically not a nurse, however they are on the frontline of contact between medical staff and patients. The role can serve as a starting point for many nurses. These health care providers bathe their patients and help them dress, eat, use the bathroom and perform other daily activities. They also measure vital signs and listen to their patient’s health concerns.
Within all of these types of nurses are dozens and dozens of nursing specialties for focused care. In order for a nurse to be able to swiftly get to work at a facility within their specialty credentialing is vital. Considering the array of educational degrees, certifications and continuing education nurses often obtain to enter the workforce, there is a plethora of documentation to support their skills and abilities to do the job they worked so hard to do.
Ready Doc™ by Intiva Health is a free, online platform that allows nurses to upload all of their supporting documentation into a secure, “digital safe” which they can access from anywhere on any device. This allows them to share their verified credentials with any facility and start caring for patients faster than ever. Ready Doc™ also has hundreds of free CEU courses for nurses so they can keep expanding their skillset and meet licensure requirements based on their state.