Every year at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses annual National Teaching Institute (NTI), I look forward to connecting with nurses from around the country. Often nurses add ribbons to their name tags to share a bit about themselves. Some designate “first time NTI,” while others are fun or silly. My favorites are those that highlight certifications and the number of years the nurse has held a certification. At the last NTI, I saw a “CCRN 30 years” ribbon worn proudly by a nurse (their other ribbon read “Powered by coffee!”). Certification is a status worth celebrating because it highlights nurses’ commitment, mastery, and accountability to our profession and to improved patient outcomes. When I attended my first NTI in 2007, I had just passed the CCRN examination the previous week. I was so excited to be in a room full of other nurses who valued the professional...

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