1. Mee, Cheryl L. RN, BC, CMSRN, MSN

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Ask any nurse about the rewards of becoming certified in a nursing specialty and you'll never hear a hint of regret. I started wondering about the benefits of certification when I was a young critical care nurse in the eighties. The more I learned in my clinical practice, the more I knew I didn't know. So despite having heard about the grueling exam I'd have to pass to earn my CCRN, I bought study materials, sent in my application, and hit the books.


After months of preparation, I spent the better part of a day taking the test at a local college. Leaving the large study hall, I doubted I'd passed; the endocrine portion of the exam had been especially tough. Yet when a letter arrived from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses informing me that I'd passed, I proudly started sporting my new CCRN credentials. That day was a turning point in my life, and I want you to know the feeling.

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Certification brings much more than personal pride. You'll gain prestige from meeting nationally recognized standards in your specialty. Your added knowledge will build your confidence in your practice and in your dealings with other health care professionals. Through my own studies, I better understood how to recognize subtle changes in critically ill patients and head off problems before they became a crisis. I shed my apprehension about caring for the sickest patients and began to take great satisfaction in managing their care.


Besides helping improve your sense of self, certification identifies you as a nurse who's met rigorous practice and continuing-education requirements in your specialty. Patients will benefit from your expertise. Employers will go out of their way to hire you and keep you happy. Plus, certification brings salary benefits. (Read about them in our salary survey report in the upcoming October issue.)


If you're toying with the idea of getting certification, just do it. Talk with nurses in your field who are certified. Ask your employer for help paying for study materials and test registration. Then send in your check, study hard, and take the exam.


The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said that a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. Take it and you'll be on your way to a more enriching nursing career. I promise.


Cheryl L. Mee


The editors of Nursing2004 want to know how we're doing and how we can serve you better. Drop me a line at or write me c/o Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 323 Norristown Rd., Suite 200, Ambler, PA 19002-2758.