I frequently am asked about those credentials at the end of my name. One response that comes to mind is that credentials are sort of like wrinkles; they simply accumulate over time. But, a more serious response would have me describe the reasons why I chose to pursue two different professional certifications.
These credentials are represented by the letters ‘RN-BC’ for Registered Nurse-Board Certified in Informatics Nursing, and ‘CPHIMS’ for Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems.
Like many of you, my career has evolved over time to reflect multiple areas of content and experience. Back in the day when I transitioned from nurse educator to IT liaison, working in a high-tech environment forced me to access many new resources to remain credible. While I understood the importance of STAT from both the clinical and IT perspectives, I was not so well-versed on terms like HL7, ethernet, or MPI. The learning curve was huge, yet important. Beyond the many new acronyms, I also learned about the importance of good design and use of informatics solutions and related technologies to support nursing practice.
This experience led me to pursue my first certification, informatics nursing, sponsored by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). I was one of the first nurses to achieve this certification, and needless to say, I was thrilled to add the credential to my name. To me, earning that credential showed others that I understood how to apply the scope and standards of nursing informatics principles to my practice, which at that time involved analyzing, designing, configuring and implementing systems in a nursing environment.
Informatics certification continues to mature, and as of March 8, 2010, there were a total of 779 actively certified ANCC informatics nurses. In order to maintain validity, role delineation or job analysis studies are typically carried out by certifying bodies, with the goal of describing current practice expectations, performance requirements, and environments.
My career path led to my current role as HIMSS Vice President of Informatics, and my job responsibilities soon expanded beyond nursing. As I gained broader knowledge, skills and experience, I felt that my credentials needed to broaden as well. So, I pursued the CPHIMS credential, which represents a well-defined body of knowledge that includes the healthcare environment, information systems and technology, privacy and security, leadership and management.
To demonstrate the value of certification, results of the 2011 HIMSS Nursing informatics Workforce Survey show that respondents who have a certification in either nursing informatics or CPHIMS have higher average salaries than those who aren’t certified. And for organizations, these credentials provide concrete, public evidence that they are staffed with individuals who know what they are doing, and that they remain competitive in comparison of quality services.
In summary, my choice to pursue both certifications was driven by the fact that each credential reflects different aspects of my content knowledge and experience. Although maintaining two credentials is not an easy task, I am convinced of their value to my work as an informatics professional, and to my ongoing career advancement.
Do you have one or more professional certifications? If so, what do you see as their value? Has certification helped advance your career, or increase your salary? Please take a moment to share your thoughts.