Increasing Your Job Prospects with these 7 Nurse Practitioner Certifications

If you’re considering becoming a nurse practitioner, chances are you’ve already gotten an idea of the rigorous and lengthy education in the road ahead. While you may think that you’ve already earned your specialty certification by studying a specific population such as becoming certificated as a pediatric NP or psychiatric NP, nurse practitioners are afforded a number of extra certifications that not only advance their already vast medical knowledge, but also increase their earning potential. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular certifications available to nurse practitioners and see what each one entails.

1. Orthopedics

The Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board offers a unique opportunity for experienced nurse practitioners to test their knowledge and skills to become a certified Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner. This certification process has several requirements including taking educational courses on the musculoskeletal system, having at least three years of nurse practitioner experience, and extensive experience (at least 2000 hours) in treating orthopedic-related conditions. The exam will cover nursing care of many musculoskeletal conditions including degenerative disorders, orthopedic trauma, sports injuries, inflammatory disorders, metabolic bone disorders, congenital musculoskeletal disorders, tumors, and neuromuscular development.

2. Emergency Medicine

Nurse practitioners working in acute care with at least 2000 hours of advanced practice in the emergency department may look to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for an opportunity to submit a portfolio review and application to obtain an Emergency Nurse Practitioner certification. Nurse practitioners must serve their 2000 hours of emergency nursing within a three-year time period as well as complete at least 30 hours of advanced emergency medicine continuing education within that time. The portfolio review and application will focus on the nurse practitioner’s professional development, nursing practice, teamwork and collaboration, patient safety, quality improvement, supervisor evaluation, and self-evaluation.

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Board also offers an opportunity for emergency nurse practitioners to sit for an exam to achieve certification in this field. Nurse practitioners looking to take this option must meet at least one of three requirements to take this exam. These requirements are: 100 continuing education hours with 2000 hours of emergency practice hours; a degree in emergency medicine; or completion of a residency or fellowship program in emergency care. The exam will cover numerous emergency medicine conditions, medical screening, medical decision making/critical thinking, patient management, patient disposition and profession legal and ethical practice.

3. Palliative Care

Palliative and hospice care have increasing utilization and opportunities for nursing support in the medical community. Nurse practitioners with at least 500 hours within one year or 1000 hours within two years in palliative or hospice care are eligible to take an exam to achieve a specialty certification in this field. This exam is offered by the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center. The exam focuses on topics regarding nursing care for adult patients and families; scientific knowledge of disease processes and testing; education and communication strategies; professional handling of ethics, guidelines, self-care, and leadership; and system issues such as quality improvement.

4. Oncology

Nurse practitioners working in oncology may obtain advanced nursing certification in their field. Some universities offer specialized post-graduate courses tailored to this certification. The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation offers an exam to test the practitioner’s knowledge in order to become certified. Requirements for the exam have two pathways. The first pathway includes having a degree with a concentration in oncology with at least 500 hours of supervised patient experience and 30 hours of continuing education in oncology. The second pathway requires 1000 practice hours if the nurse practitioner does not have specific graduate level oncology specialization. This exam focuses on testing the nurse practitioner’s knowledge of oncological screening, prevention, early detection, and risk; cancer treatment; diagnosis, staging, and planning; survivorship; oncological emergencies; medication management; end-of-life care; psychosocial concerns; coordination of care; professional practice; and nursing roles.

5. Dermatology

The Dermatology Nurses Association (DNA) has prepared a certification exam for nurse practitioners who specialize in dermatology. Requirements for this exam include a minimum of 3000 hours of nurse practitioner experience in dermatology which may include formal education, fellowship, or residency program in the specialty. The exam focuses on the nurse practitioner’s ability to assess and diagnose dermatologic conditions, prescribe interventions; provide patient education; consult and collaborate with other providers; and analyze research data and evidence based practice.

6. Education

Many universities offer post-masters certifications in education. This may be achieved by taking additional courses geared toward nursing education or by having a specific number of clinical practice hours in a nurse educator role. When looking for a nurse practitioner education certification program, look for a program accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Most of these certificate programs focus on education topics including foundations in nursing education; designing curriculums; teaching strategies; assessment and evaluation; advanced clinical practice as an educator; leadership; evidence-based research; and advanced nursing care. These courses combined with structured teaching clinical hours help the nurse practitioner achieve the level of education needed to teach others.

7. Clinical Research

Clinical research plays an essential part in the future of the medicine and role of the advanced nurse practitioner. Research is what drives national health initiatives, provides guidance through innovative therapies, and improves health outcomes. The Association of Clinical Research Professionals provides a certification exam for nurses looking to pursue clinical research. There are several levels of certification within this organization ranging from associate to lead research coordinator to project manager.

Whatever your specialty or interest, you can find a program or certification for you to advance your career. For a more thorough list of all the available certifications available in nursing, check out to get all the information you need.