The increasing specialization of the medical field has spawned a similar trend in education for the field, so there are several different types of nursing certifications one could pursue in advancement of a career as a nurse.
Certification exams assess knowledge of different areas of medicine and typically need to be retaken every five years or so to renew the certificate. The more certifications a nurse obtains, the higher the pay that individual can qualify for. Certification is neither a synonym nor a substitute for an academic degree in nursing, but work done to study for certification examinations can be part of the coursework in nursing school. It's also possible to study for the exams on one's own. Certifications sometimes count towards the continuing education efforts nurses must make throughout their careers to remain current on medical innovations.
Types of Nursing Certifications
Each nursing certification exam focuses on a different area of knowledge or medical practice that a nurse might work in. Certifications include some that have nurse practitioner designations, some associated with clinical nurse specialists and others that are only focused on a type of medicine.
Some Certification Exams
Most of the certification exams require registration at least three months in advance and payment of a fee. They include:
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: Covers the type of care given in emergency rooms, to patients in intensive care and those in critical condition.
- Adult Nurse Practitioner: This certification covers general health issues for adults.
- Adult Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: This exam covers issues that come up in mental health care facilities for adults.
- Ambulatory Care Nursing: This certification addresses outpatient care.
- Cardiac Rehabilitation Nursing: This exam focuses on care for patients recovering from heart disease.
- Diabetes Management: This certification covers the care of patients with diabetes, along with issues of prevention and maintenance.
- Family Nurse Practitioner: This exam certifies an individual to be the nursing version of a general practitioner.
- Family Psychological and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: This certification covers family-focused psychological care issues, including group and couples therapy.
- Gerontological Nurse Practitioner: This certification covers elder care.
- Pediatric Nurse: This exam covers issues related to caring for children.
- School Nurse Practitioner: This certification qualifies the individual to serve as a nurse at a school.
- Forensic Nursing: This highly specialized exam qualifies an individual to work as a nurse in a coroner's office.
- High-Risk Perinatal Nursing: This exam focuses on care for newborns and fetuses with health problems.
- Home Health Nursing: This certification enables a nurse to provide care to patients in their homes.
- Informatics Nursing: This certifies an individual's competency in health-care information technology related to genetic mapping.
- Medical-Surgical Nursing: This certification qualifies individuals to be operating room nurses.
- Nurse Executive: This certification qualifies an individual to supervise other nurses.
- Pain Management: This certification deals with issues related to relieving and managing pain.
- Public Health Nursing: This exam covers the issues that come up in municipal or government-owned hospitals.
There are many other certifications that can be obtained, and they all help advance one's career in specialized ways. Between the fact that most nursing certifications need renewing after several years, and the fact that medicine continues to unveil new discoveries and with them create new specialties, it's certainly not impossible to be always in the process of preparing for nursing certification exams.