Nursing Certification: Reasons for and Requirements


Nursing is a profession that implies responsibility for the constant care of the injured, sick, and dying, as well as for maintaining the well-being of individuals, families, and communities at the medical and district levels. In this regard, to provide quality care for patients, the presence of profound knowledge is the fundamental prerequisite in the nursing practice. Nursing certifications ensure that nurses possess the required education, ability, and experience to deliver the appropriate care and enhance health outcomes. Thus, this paper aims at discussing reasons for and requirements of nursing certification in the context of a particular position and specialty area of interest.

The Reasons to Achieve Nursing Certification

The healthcare environment poses continuing challenges for nursing staff, requiring a steady development of knowledge and skills within a designated role. In this context, nursing certification comprises various benefits that facilitate nurse’s professional growth and their performance. The certification primarily helps nurses meet employers’ increasing needs, improve professional commitment and credibility, and enhances the potential of career advancement and marketability (Kitto et al., 2017). In addition, personally, certification creates a sense of accomplishment, broaden the knowledge in the area of expertise, and provide ongoing development. Thus, certification is a necessary component of quality in an everyday nursing workflow.

Certification within a Work Position

Work Site Incentives for Nurses

In healthcare facilities, including hospitals, certified nurses have a range of advantages over non-certified individuals on the worksite since many employers are first interested in the acquisition of certificates by nurses. In particular, many managers encourage nurses to obtain certification training by paying a specific part of the exam fees before taking or passing the exam. Besides, most of the certified nurses receive a salary increase and bonuses, as well as have significantly better chances for career promotion, including for leading positions, such as Chief Nursing Officer.

Workplace Education Programs

In the workplace, many managers create different educational programs that prepare the ground for the subsequent acquisition of certification. Most of these programs are primarily directed at gaining necessary knowledge by nurses concerning patient safety and enhanced care. Furthermore, they acquaint the staff with the hospital’s standards and principles of nursing practice and help to prevent errors that can lead to inferior patients’ outcomes. Finally, some courses promote the development of specific abilities needed while caring for patients or cooperating with co-workers, for example, communication skills.


Healthcare organizations use mentoring programs to assist new hires in seeking experienced mentors who can guide them in the right direction on their professional journeys. In the worksite, mentorship can foster professional growth, increase employee retention, and boost workplace satisfaction. Moreover, career mentoring allows nurses to hone and acquire new skills and feel involved in the workflow and cooperation with colleagues and management. Finally, mentorship facilitates the cultivation of leadership among nurses.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The certification validates nurses’ competency, broadens the knowledge in the area of expertise, and stimulates career promotion. It should be added that the research by Fitzpatrick (2017) acknowledges certified nurses’ better outcomes for patients primarily related to lower total patient fall rates, decreased inpatient mortality, and reduced odds of failure to rescue. On the other hand, the drawbacks are mainly associated with the cost of the certification program or exam and a lack of incentive from the institution. Besides, there is a risk of mismatch between the results of certification training and nurse’s expectations.

Certification in a Professional Area of Interest

The Required Steps

To become an Oncology Certified Nurse, I need to fulfill the specific requirements of an organization. First of all, I need to obtain an active, unencumbered license as a registered nurse since, without it, I cannot take an exam. In addition, within four years of application, I need to have at least two years (24 months) of experience as an RN and 2,000 hours of adult oncology nursing practice before application (“Oncology Certified Nurse,” n.d). To receive an RN license, I am required to complete an associate’s or bachelor’s program in nursing that will take between two and 3 years. It is also necessary to gain a minimum of 10 contact hours of nursing continuing education in oncology. Overall, it will take about 5 years to achieve certification.

Job Description

With the growing number of cancers in the US population, there is increasing demand in oncology nurses that can deliver competent caring for patients undergoing or recovering from cancer treatments. According to Beck et al. (2016), oncology certified nurse (OCN) can better results in pain management compared to non-OCN. Thus, to ensure sustainable recovery, the nurse should possess the necessary knowledge and skills since patients’ treatment is connected with sophisticated methods, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and blood transfusions.

Professional Organizations and Journals

Among organizations that offer certification, the most credible are Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC), Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The most authoritative journals available for members are the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing. The cost of certification varies from $300 to $400 depending on the membership (“Oncology Certified Nurse,” n.d). Finally, it is worth noting that to continue my education and become an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Specialist, I should have at least 1,000 hours of experience as a clinical nurse specialist in adult oncology.


Beck, S. L., Brant, J. M., Donohue, R., Smith, E. M. L., Towsley, G. L., Berry, P. H., Guo, J.-W., Al-Qaaydeh, S., Pett, M.A., & Donaldson, G. (2016). Oncology nursing certification: Relation to nurses’ knowledge and attitudes about pain, patient-reported pain care quality, and pain outcomes. Oncology Nursing Forum, 43, 67-76.

Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2017). The value of nursing certification: Revisited and reinforced. Journal of the Association for Vascular Access, 22(3), 131-134.

Kitto, S., Grant, R., Chappell, K., & Lundmark, V. (2017). The relationship between specialty certification of individual nurses and outcomes: Developing a standardized taxonomy for research. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, 47(5), 245-247.

Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) (n.d.). Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. Web.

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NursingBird. "Nursing Certification: Reasons for and Requirements." February 7, 2022.