Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Let's Get Certified!

By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

I recently got certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).  The test was long and I had to study a bit, but I passed and now get to put BC (board certified) behind my name.  Now this may seem like I’m bragging myself up, but as I walked out of the testing center I was kicking myself more than celebrating.

Why wouldn’t I be more excited to have my new nurse certification, you wonder?  Well, it’s because I realized how beneficial this could have been on travel nurse interviews I had in the past.  I’ve blogged a lot about phone interviews and tips for getting a good travel nursing job, and my key point is that you need to show the manager that you are someone who can “hit the ground running.”  And being certified is a great way to show that.

Being certified shows a nurse manager that you are dedicated to your career. Even though nurses don’t have to take boards every two years (thankfully), you challenged yourself and did, in a sense.  Nursing certifications are divided up among specialties, so if you’re an ICU nurse you really don’t need to know OB to pass the test.  You just need to know your field pretty well. 

There are a ton of study guides out there and I highly recommend reading a study book--preferably the one published by the group that is sponsoring your test.  After all, if I wrote a test and then offered to help you study for it, wouldn’t that sound pretty good?

Next piece of advice: take a class.  Many certifications have review classes put on by experts in that certain field.  I took a few of these classes over the years just to learn more about my specialty.  They are typically very informative and include a free lunch!

Also, there are many technology pieces that can help you study for a certification or just refine your nursing skills.  They come in the form of apps, blogs, podcasts, and electronic recordings of classes you can listen to on your MP3 player or other mobile device.  I highly recommend a couple of these.  You can even find some free ones if you search online. 

Overall, certification does require some time and money investments upfront, but I know that if a manager sees that BC or CCRN or CEN behind your name, they will know that you have invested serious time studying to pass a tough exam.  Most managers know that certification shows a dedication to the profession of nursing and appreciate the effort.  And in addition to possibly helping you secure a new assignment, it will also give you something to put on your name tag every 13 weeks other than your name and RN!

So go get certified; it will make your travel nursing interviews a lot easier, and allow you to live the dream as a travel nurse.

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