So you’re interested in taking the CCRN exam. Or if you’re not and you’re an ICU nurse, you should be! Of course the idea of taking this exam is daunting, but when you get to add those four letters behind your name, it’s all worth the hours of studying. When I’ve asked some of my coworkers if they’re certified, I’ve heard a lot of “why would I do that?” or “what’s the point? I don’t need it.” So if you’re one of those nurses, I hope I can try and persuade you to take on the challenge of this exam.
So why should you take the CCRN? Here’s why I decided to sit for this test.
1. Getting certified is good for your patients! The ICU gets patients as sick as they come, and compared to other units, nurses actually have a big say in the plan of care. The critical care doctors (usually) respect and consider what ICU nurses suggest in regards to the patient, so with more knowledge = more power! The CCRN exam is also updated every couple of years so the education is new and recent, giving you the opportunity as a nurse to even disagree with physicians on older practice, and possibly suggest the more current treatment option backed by the evidence you’ve learned. I found this interesting: In November 2002, there was a poll taken that revealed that 78% of general public respondents have knowledge that nurses can be certified. So you could say that 78% of your patients may be curious if they have a nurse that is certified that shift! Are you one of them? It’s obvious that the more knowledge you have in the ICU, the better. After all the prep I did for the CCRN, I was amazed at how much I had learned that I didn’t know or understand before. Taking the exam could be the difference between life or death for your patient.
2. Certification is good for hospitals. Most hospitals recognize and celebrate their nurses getting certified. Some even offer a differential. The CCRN benefits the nurse in a way that they will make safer choices with less risk, which leads to less medication/other errors. This is obviously good for the hospitals but for patients too. Additionally, it can’t hurt to have a resume boost. Having your certification will help if you’re thinking of transferring to another hospital, or going to CRNA or NP school. Nurses also have reported higher satisfaction with their job after getting certified, another plus for employers.
3. Getting certified benefits YOU. Duh. As ICU nurses we all love a good challenge, so why not challenge yourself and validate your knowledge. The NCLEX assesses basic competence as a nurse. The CCRN validates critical thinking and expertise in critical care. And as you all know, it’s not required to take the CCRN. So taking this step by choice shows your commitment to the ever changing and fascinating world of critical care. You will continue to be a role model on your unit and be recognized by your coworkers and patients.
So stop being afraid and take the test! Knowing myself, I purposely bought the exam before I had even started studying. That way it forced me to be ready in 3 months (the max time allowed after purchasing the exam). The test is TOUGH, but I think if I was able to do it during my very complicated recovery from an injury, anyone can do it. Maybe the Percocet helped me study better…? Right.
Start your journey to excellence here.
Questions about the exam? Comment below. I’ll be posting how I studied for the CCRN this month as well, in honor of Certified Nurses Day, March 19.