Background This study was based on the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ (AACNs’) interest in determining the value and influence of specialty certification.

Objectives To examine relationships between AACN specialty certification and empowerment, and, secondarily, to examine these variables as related to intent to leave the current position and the nursing profession.

Methods AACN members were asked to participate in a Web-based survey; 6589 AACN members completed the surveys.

Results Perceptions of empowerment differed significantly among nurses certified by AACN and nurses without such certification. Additional analyses revealed significant differences in empowerment related to position, education, salary, ethnicity, sex, intent to leave the current position, and intent to leave the profession. Forty-one percent of the participants indicated intent to leave their current position in the next year; only 6.9% indicated their intent to leave the profession in the next year. Intent to leave current position differed significantly according to age, sex, years of experience, ethnicity, educational level, and certification.

Conclusions The value of specialty certification and the importance of empowerment among critical care nurses are affirmed. The next step in the continued journey toward increasing retention of critical care nurses, and thereby improving patient care, is to evaluate existing programs focused on retention and identify needed enhancements.

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