Certificate in Nursing

Nursing is an extremely rewarding and diverse branch of healthcare which focuses on providing medical care to patients, assisting doctors and performing a variety of managerial and administrative duties in hospitals and clinics. While nurses are mainly charged with looking after patients and ensuring their comfort, they also carry out various diagnostic tests, perform physiotherapy and take care of administrative tasks such as record keeping and medical billing. Due to their interaction with the public, they are also responsible for educating people on basic healthcare and hygiene principles.

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About the Degree

Numerous nursing degrees and certifications are offered on-campus and online by a number of colleges and special training institutes around the country. The basic requirement to enroll in such programs varies. A high school diploma or GED is usually enough to enroll in a certificate or undergraduate level nursing degree program.

The most common type of certification is the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification which can be completed in as little as a year. It includes basic courses in anatomy, physiology and various biological and behavioral sciences. A more advanced program would be Associate Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which can help graduates become Registered Nurses (RNs). These programs may require completing an internship at a healthcare organization in order to help students develop a working knowledge of their field.

Nurse Certification

In a nurse certification program, a nongovernmental agency validates a nurse’s qualifications for practice, based on pre-determined standards. Typically nursing programs are affiliated with professional associations and trade organizations that are interested in raising standards and quality of the healthcare sector. Certifications are earned after a specified assessment process and are meant to be renewed regularly.

Registered nurses are not legally required to be certified. State licensure is sufficient to practice professional nursing, while certifications are deemed to be a voluntary concern which can be obtained through specific organizations. These organizations are created for the purpose of validating the presence of certain skills, knowledge, abilities and experience in subjects beyond the scope of a registered nurse license.

Eligibility Requirements

To apply for a certificate in nursing, you will need to meet certain eligibility criteria. This would vary from institute to institute, but on the whole it would require the following:

  • A master’s degree in nursing
  • Minimum GPA requirement (most likely around 3.0)
  • State nurse license
  • You should be able to show the ability to successfully complete the relevant academic clinical concerns of an advanced nursing program
  • You should have at least one year of full time nursing experience as a registered nurse, before applying for the program

Other requirements might include prior work experience with adults and older adults in critical care, etc. For details on application and admission requirements, check with the admissions office at the institute and get all the relevant information beforehand.

Difference between Acute Care and Critical Care Nursing

To completely understand the eligibility requirements and nature of past work experience, it is integral that you know what an acute care nurse is and what constitutes critical care nursing.

Patients who are considered critically ill at the highest level of complexity and instability are handled by critical care nurses. These are serious cases that cannot be treated without taking proper invasive therapeutic measures. These nurses are expected to be highly skilled and vigilant in their work, mainly due to the sensitive conditions of their patients.

On the other hand, acutely ill patients are those that are at a lesser risk and are in a relatively less complex situation. These patients are more stable, but they do have the potential to become unstable if proper care is not provided to them in a timely manner. Acute care nurses make detailed observations of their patients and intervene whenever required. A great deal of patience and vigilance is also required of these nurses.

Nursing Certificate Programs

Depending on specialty, preference and eligibility, nurses can apply to different programs within a nursing certification. Each of these would have their own relevant admission criteria and program specifications. Here are a few examples:

  • Certified Nurse Manager and Leader Certification: This certification allows the administrative staff in a medical setting to certify their knowledge in keeping with the demanding and complex leadership responsibilities.
  • Acute/Critical Care Cardiac Medicine Subspecialty Certification: This program is designed for nurses who already have a nationally accredited clinical nursing specialty certification. Clinical settings for these nurses may include CCU, Combined ICU, Medical ICU, Interventional Cardiology, and Cardiac Catheterization and so on.
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification: This is an entry level advanced practice certification designed to meet the specialized requirements of adult-gerontology patients. This includes young adults, older adults and frail old patients with complex or chronic health concerns.
  • Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist Certification: This is also an entry-level advanced practice certification designed for nurses who provide healthcare facilities to neonatal patients.
  • Acute/Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Certification: As the name suggests, this certification is designed for nurses serving critically ill patients. Examinations and assessments may be different for nurses who care for pediatric, adult or neonatal patients.
  • Advanced Practice Nursing: Adult Acute Care: These nurses are equipped with medical knowledge required to care for adult patients.For this program, experience relevant to adult nursing would be required and critical care professionals might be given preference.
  • Advanced Practice Nursing: Pediatrics: As the name suggests, for this program, applicants should ideally have worked with kids in a medical facility for a certain amount of time (typically at least one year). They should have sufficient knowledge regarding the common and contemporary medical concerns experienced by children.

Benefits of a Certificate in Nursing

Nurses are able to validate their skills and knowledge through certifications. There are various benefits of going through this process. Patients, families, employers and nurses all benefit from the fact that the nurses are certified in their respective specialties.

  • Benefits for Patients and Families: A certification would provide patients’ families  with assurance that the person caring for them or their loved ones is knowledgeable and skilled. Being able to reassure patients and their families is an integral part of the healthcare industry.
  • Benefits for Employers: Continuous improvement and maintenance of skills creates an environment of professionalism and gives the medical facility a good retention rate. Certified medical staff is also a way for hospitals to differentiate themselves from competitors in the market and show the patients that the hospital has top of the line staff available for them.
  • Benefits for Nurses: By getting certified, nurses are able to add credibility and authentication to their skill set and can position themselves for due recognition.

Career Prospects

A nursing certificate opens up a number of opportunities in the areas of nursing education, hospital management and other fields of medicine. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates over two million new nursing careers will be created by 2020, giving this field one of the highest growth rates among all professions.

How long does it take to get a certificate in nursing?

After you have completed your degree in nursing, you will need to get certified before you can begin practicing. For this, you will need to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). You will first have to apply for the license through your state board of nursing and meet the eligibility criteria defined by your specific state. The certification process itself does not take long – the amount of time required to get certified will depend on the degree path you take before the certification process. For instance, an associate degree program would take two years, a bachelor’s degree would take four years and a master’s degree would take two years. Nurses may also become certified through professional associations, in areas such as gerontology, pediatrics or ambulatory care.

What are the requirements to get a certificate in nursing?

To get a certificate in nursing, you will first need to complete a degree in nursing. Once you are done with this, you will need to register yourself for the certification exam with your state board of nursing. Every state has its own eligibility criteria, so make sure you are well aware of your state’s individual requirements. Following this, you will need to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

How much can I make with a certificate in nursing?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are two major categories of nurses; “Registered Nurses” and “Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses.”

Registered Nurses

The Registered Nurses in the US will experience a 7% increase in employment opportunities from 2019 to 2029. RNs earned $77,460 as mean annual salary in the year 2019, with their annual median salaries being $73,300.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses are expected to experience even better job growth than Registered Nurses between 2019 and 2029. LPNs and LVNs are projected to experience a 9% increase in job opportunities. Their annual mean salary across the US in 2019 was $48,500 and their yearly median income stood at $47,480.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

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