I recently was asked a question about nursing certification. She wanted to know how she could become certified as a nurse case manager if she didn’t have the experience (which is what is required to take the exam) and no one would hire her without nursing certification in case management?
If you look at the requirements for becoming certified in most nursing specialties they do want you to work a certain amount of hours in that nursing specialty before taking the exam.
This makes sense because why would you want to become certified in that nursing specialty if you never worked there.
How would you know if this area of nursing was right for you?
My recommendations to her were to take classes in that specialty, obtain continuing education credits (CE) apply for the position anyways and focus on the skills you do have that are transferable to this new position.
You can also join the associations or organizations related to the specialty you want to work in, they all have one. Great way to meet others in this specialty and learn more about it.
Go to their local chapter meetings or their national conferences or conventions. Get involved with online communities related to the nursing specialty you want a job in.
Tell your family and friends what you are interested in doing, get the word out and start networking.
You never know who you will meet or who someone else knows; it could be just the person you need to help you obtain the dream job you always wanted.
But if you can’t get hired in the nursing specialty you want especially after spending money for courses and CE credits than consider self employment. You don’t have to be certified to own your own business nor do you need a business degree and case management is a highly sought after job opportunity for you to explore.
Many nurses are turning to nurse entrepreneurship as an alternative career; it’s one of the fastest growing trends in nursing.
Certification can come later after you gain experience and knowledge in that specialty and you’re sure this is the career you want long term.
Certification should come last, not first.
There are no rules stating that you must have a nursing certification to work in a nursing specialty, it is a recommendation not a requirement so keep this in mind and don’t let not having a nursing certification stop you from applying for a nursing position you really want.
Educate yourself on that specialty, buy books, join their organizations, get to know a nurse who works in that industry, find out how she got her job, and learn what transferable skills you do have that would be appealing to an employer.
Donna Cardillo wrote a great book for nurses who want to make a change in their nursing careers called The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career
I highly recommend this book for any nurse who wants to change her nursing specialty whether it’s within the hospital setting or to self employment.
You’ll learn what transferable skills you have, how to interview, how to transition to that new specialty and much more. You’ll be inspired and feel much more comfortable and confident in your abilities when it comes time to make a change in your nursing career.
So yes, get your nursing certification when you know this is the dream job you want and have experience in. If you don’t have certification than that’s fine too. Keep exploring until you find what your passion is, that’s the beauty of being a nurse….so many options.