In this episode of the Ask Nurse Alice podcast, host Alice Benjamin discusses the importance of nursing certifications and how they contribute to better patient outcomes. She shares her personal experience and chats with guest Casey Green, BSN, RN, CCRN-CMC, CTRN, CFRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN, CNRN, NRP who became the 85th nurse in the United States to EVER hold all 5 emergency nursing certifications from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. Tune in to learn more about the value of nursing certifications in various specializations.
Casey’s journey into nursing was inspired by her grandmother, who was also a nurse.
“I grew up, like, with my grandma and kind of like, she had me give her her insulin when I was little and she got me this gigantic book, like, medical book. And it was like a kid’s book, but it has, like, all the proper terminology. And I just carry that thing around with me everywhere I went,” she recalls.
Initially wanting to become a trauma surgeon, Casey realized that a higher amount of patient interaction drew her to nursing instead.
After becoming a nurse, Casey was inspired to start pursuing nursing certification by her peers, saying, “I knew that I wanted to get certified in something because every strong nurse that I knew when I was a baby nurse, they were certified. They were so smart and they would just be effortless in being able to speak like patho-phys and speak to the providers. And they just knew all this knowledge.”
Years later, Casey is only the 85th nurse in history to hold all five emergency nursing certifications from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. She now works as a transport nurse, assistant nurse manager, and adjunct faculty.
In this episode, Casey and Alice discuss how deciding to pursue a nursing certification is no small task. It can also be difficult to justify for some nurses.
“You’ll have some nurses who will think like, ‘I’m a great ICU nurse, I’m a great emergency room nurse. I don’t need a certification to demonstrate that or prove that.’ They’ll say those types of things. And they’ll say, ‘Well, why should I spend money on a certification if it doesn’t make an impact with how much money I make?’” Nurse Alice says in the episode.
Casey explains that certifications ultimately benefit the patients, as well as increase your professional development and credibility. However, she also acknowledges how difficult it is to be a bedside nurse right now and how tempting it can be to just do your job and go home.
“The only thing that kept me in the profession during COVID was studying for certification,” she tells Nurse Alice. “Because it’s just so hard when everything that you learn gets tossed out the window, especially if you’re new, and you’re like, Oh, I’m reading about best practice and we’re using trash bags for PPE… For me, I thought of, like, if I was the best nurse that I could be, what could I do? And it was like, be certified.
Casey encourages nurses who are studying for a certification to be realistic about their studying and not to take multiple certification exams too close together.
“Just figure out which one you want to take and then just be realistic that you’re studying and working, because you work. But then think about all the TikTok videos you consume when you’re at work and all the things. You can find somebody who asks questions on Instagram or TikTok or something. So if that’s how you learn best, you can find that information and just watch nursing TikTok videos on topics. But you just have to be realistic in how you’re studying,” Casey explains.
Casey says that one of the key benefits ofto certification for her is giving her the knowledge necessary to become a better practitioner and to create change within her department.
“After I took certifications, I learned a lot. But then I was looking at what we were doing at my hospital. So okay, but if the textbook says that we should do things this way, and everybody seems to be practicing this way, and there’s research on it, why aren’t we doing it this way?” she says.
“Research will show that nurses who have nursing specialty certifications in particular areas tend to lend to better patient outcomes, better patient experiences, and a whole host of other things,” Nurse Alice explains in the episode.
Having supportive leadership is a crucial part of certification, as Casey explains her experiences with unsupportive managers in the past.
“My leader when I was a bedside nurse was the actual opposite of supportive. Like, if I made a test date, she would put me on that day. So, like, working that night, it was awful. Or I had a manager who told me that I shouldn’t take it. She was not going to put me through the review class because she didn’t think I was going to pass,” Casey recalls.
Casey emphasizes the importance of finding the certifications that make sense for you to have, based on your specialty. She also encourages other nurses not to feel pressured to measure up to her number of certifications (or anyone else’s) and to avoid the naysayers while pursuing certification.
“The people that are negative, we just shut them out. So if somebody’s on a unit, like, asking “Is that worth it?” Shut them out,” she advises.
Nurse Alice explains that certification exams can be difficult and not everyone passes them easily. Casey encourages nurses who have failed their certification exam to continue studying and try again.
“I failed the CEN by one point,” she shares in the episode. “If you don’t pass it the first time, it’s very similar to people who don’t pass the NCLEX the first time, it doesn’t mean that you’re not a bad nurse. It just means that you just need to go back and look over things again… you have to have the discipline to sit down and study and take the time and just think of, like, you’re investing all this time in for the day that your patient has this, or they present with that. And you’re the only personal unit who knows what it is and what to do. And what a feeling that is.”