Importance of Certification

Debbie Buchwach, MSN, RN-BC is the Director of Professional Practice for Ambulatory Nursing & Optimization for Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest Region.


Nursing Professional Development week is September 18-24. This is a great time to pause and reflect on the importance of NPD certification.


We began our nursing careers with the desire to provide the best care for our patients/clients. We participated in in-services, attended conferences, read specialty-care journals, and collaborated with other colleagues to increase our knowledge, skills, and abilities. Once we transitioned from novice to expert in our field, many of us sought certification. It was a way to recognize our depth of knowledge and commitment to our chosen specialty practice. I often wonder why some of us don't follow this same path when we enter into the specialty practice of Nursing Professional Development.
I was acutely aware that I had entered a different nursing specialty when I was asked to implement a new interprofessional care plan. What I didn't know as I planned my “training” was that I needed to understand change, leadership, and learning theory. Looking back, I didn't provide the best learning experience for the learners. I was fortunate that my organization sent me to my first ANPD Conference just a few months later. I was exposed to best practices in our field, networked with fellow NPD Practitioners, and found out about the J ournal for Nurses in Professional Development . I left with a commitment to increasing my knowledge, skills, and abilities in order to provide the best NPD leadership to my organization.


A year later, I attended my first ANPD certification preparation class. My learning objective was to gain a better understanding of what I needed to know to be an effective NPD Practitioner. What I left with was a passion for our specialty. I actively sought out best practices through reading the journal and other professional resources, networking with NPD colleagues, and attending the ANPD convention every year. As I incorporated my learning into my practice, I became more valuable to my organization. I was better able to provide the leadership required to help the organization meet its strategic goals.


Four years into my NPD career, I decided to seek certification. I wanted to validate the specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities I had developed. I attended another ANPD certification preparation class to prepare for the exam. This time, I validated what I had learned and identified a few opportunities for additional preparation. A few months later, I took and passed my board exam. I'm now entering my second recertification cycle.


Why is certification important? Certification is one of the measurements used to validate professional growth and competence in a specialty field. Because we are role models for lifelong learning, I believe it is important that NPD Practitioners are certified. NPD certification increases our credibility with staff, interprofessional colleagues, and organizational leaders. The journey to NPD certification, which begins with professional development, ultimately leads to evidence-based programs that change nursing practice which improve patient outcomes. Certified NPD Practitioners provide leadership that is critical in meeting the challenges of our current healthcare systems.
What are your thoughts on the importance of NPD certification for NPD Practitioners?

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