1. Gould, Kathleen Ahern PhD, MSN, RN

Article Content

Certificated Nurse Day, celebrated by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), on March 19, is a day for joy and reflection. The first certified critical care nurse (CCRN) was recognized in 1975. Today there are thousands of CCRNs and many other specialty certified nurses proudly wearing the initials representative of this accomplishment.


Nurses learn and grow both personally and professionally every day; arriving at their chosen specialty in many ways, often through advanced education or certification. Each step in career advancement allows nurses to demonstrate their professional growth. Lisa Bonsall tells us that certification validates this growth by expressing competence and engagement in lifelong learning in our specialty areas of practice. When we add certification to our names, resumes, and identity, we communicate a commitment to excellence in our profession and chosen field. Bonsall also reminds us that certified nursing practice has been correlated with improved patient outcomes.1


It is in the spirit of celebration and recognition that certification was developed. It is one of the best ways to recognize and support nurses for their clinical expertise. Certification brings personal and professional acknowledgment and often serves as a foundation for career choices and new opportunities.


Certification is a mark of excellence and a way to demonstrate nursing knowledge that reflects national standards and a commitment to advancing the science of each specialty. At Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, we honor the many certified nurses who serve as board members, consultants, authors, and reviewers. Moreover, we encourage certification and recertification as professional publication and peer review work contribute to sustaining this process. Many of our colleagues are certified in critical care and other specialties.



For critical care nurses, the AACN offers 15 certifications. Guided by a 9-member board of directors, AACN Certification Corporation develops and administers the CCRN, CCRN-K, CCRN-E, PCCN, PCCN-K, ACNPC-AG, ACCNS-AG, ACCNS-P, and ACCNS-N specialty certification examinations and the CMC and CSC subspecialty certification examinations. Since 1975, AACN certification mission is to drive patient health and safety through comprehensive credentialing of acute and critical care nurses ensuring practice consistent with standards of excellence.2



Many other specialty organizations offer certification that is specific to their organizational mission and practice standards. At Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, we aspire to keep nurses updated on certification for critical care and all specialties. Together with our colleagues at Lippincott, we provide listings and links to these resources.1 Nurses may also visit directly to access the most up-to-date information on NursingCenter's CEConnection ( Here you will find certification lists organized by nursing specialty. For more information about critical and acute care certification, visit to find out more about how organizations celebrate certification on March 19, or year-round!



Often, organizations will announce, display, or recognize certification with ceremonial events, plaques, awards, and unit-based festivities. AACN provides many examples and offers certification celebration ideas and promotional items. Many resources are offered as free downloads that may be displayed or shared during this celebration.


Enjoy this celebration, share the pride of certification with your staff and commit to helping those who would like to pursue certification. Many resources exist to help nurses prepare for the examination. Educational and financial support may be available at both the local and national levels. As educators, leaders, and mentors support certification, we are building a strong workforce that exemplifies the pride of commitment of our nurses.




1. Bonsall LM, Schnur MB, Fryling-Resare K, Lynch L. 2018 guide to nursing certification boards. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing. 2018;37(6):294-301. [Context Link]


2. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. About AACN certification. Accessed November 11, 2019. [Context Link]