Nursing’s social contract reflects our responsibility to govern and regulate our profession. One fundamental way that nursing regulates itself is by ensuring that only individuals who meet minimum qualification standards are licensed to practice nursing. Certification, on the other hand, validates mastery of specialty knowledge beyond the scope of registered nurse (RN) licensure. Although certification extends beyond licensure, both pro-mote safety of health care consumers.

Certification promotes professionalism by bolstering commitment and accountability for ongoing professional development and lifelong learning. After achieving certification, nurses are required to recertify at regular intervals, usually every 4 to 5 years. The recertification process involves meeting practice (actual number varies by specialty) and ongoing learning (conferences, academic credits) requirements. Maintaining skills and staying abreast of trends and best practices may not only improve health care outcomes for patients/families and communities but also lead to new career opportunities for certified nurses.

As a result, specialty...

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