Certifiable over Certifications

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In labor and delivery nursing, I have to be competent in many specialties in order to care for my patients.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when the safety nurse called me this week to let me know I have 4 big certifications either newly required or lapsed that need my current attention. Guess what I will be doing this year? Studying. A lot.

This got me to thinking about how I was warned, in nursing school, that nurses are constantly struggling to keep up and stay current and we do so through education. We are “lifetime learners” and all that jazz. True, true. But I didn’t really know what that looked like until I got knee-deep into this profession and realized what it takes in order to truly stay on top of things: lots of time and lots of money.

The cons of getting new certifications has been a little overwhelming: the books I need to purchase, the classes I need to attend outside my normal nursing hours (and as always, night nurses rarely have class offerings that fit their schedules), and the cost of certification. My hospital pays for some certs, but others they only pay when computerized exams are passed. And the BOOKS are pricey.

Then there is the study time. As a busy wife, mom and floor nurse who also teaches as a second job, I wonder when I’ll have time to study? My floor has a 20% volume increase and some staffing issues, so studying during down time is not realistic.  Instead I have to carve out personal time to study, go to classes and take exams.

So, what are the pros? How can I spin this positively?

Yes, I want to be on par nationally with other nurses in my specialty, and I want expertise in my field. Yet I wonder how certifying in an any area guarantees this? Really, experience using these skills are what rounds me out and make me proficient. I am a hands-on learner after all.

Yet I DO learn something new each time I take one of these classes and demonstrate my competency. I also prove to my employer on paper that I’m ok to go. And these certifications look wonderful on my resume.

Anyway, I’m sucking it up–trudging to classes during the (gasp!) daylight, buying huge textbooks to study on my supposed “downtime,” and saving up the money to pay up-front for certifications my hospital requires of me (which makes no sense either). In the end, I’ll be a better nurse, right? Well, at least on paper!

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