Happy Certified Nurses Day!


March 19 is Certified Nurses Day, which is celebrated worldwide to recognize the dedication and commitment of those nurses who have obtained certification in their specialized field of nursing, as well as to honor their contribution to excellence in nursing practice.

Certification, which is done by various nongovernmental boards and other agencies, validates the nurses’ advanced knowledge and competence in their specific fields of nursing. Obtaining and maintaining certification requires hard work and dedication. The nurse has to provide proof that she has obtained certain educational qualifications, practiced a required number of hours in the specialty area, and pass a tough certification exam. Thereafter she has to commit to a challenging program of continuous learning in order to maintain certification.


Margretta “Gretta” Madden Styles

The date chosen to celebrate Certified Nurses Day every year, March 19, is the birthdate of Margretta “Gretta” Madden Styles who was the pioneer of certification in the USA. She was an ardent campaigner for stricter credentialing standards for nurses and was also involved in establishing the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Nursing is becoming increasingly complex, and more and more employers are giving preference to those nurses who are board certified in order to ensure high standards of care for patients. This is particularly true of hospitals aiming for Magnet status. Data collected by the ANCC in 2016 showed that nearly 800,000 nurses in the USA and Canada held certification in one of 144 different credentials, granted by 28 different certifying organizations.



Certification has advantages for patients, employers as well as for the nurse.

Certification has advantages for patients, employers as well as for the nurse. Certified nurses have been shown to be more skilled in the care they provide for patients; make better, evidence-based decisions; as well as increase patient safety and patient satisfaction. Employers value the message of commitment to personal development and better patient outcomes that certification implies. Personal benefits for the nurse include not only greater career opportunities but also a sense of accomplishment and improved confidence because a body of their peers has validated their knowledge and experience.

A few examples of how Certified Nurses Day can be celebrated are to present certified nurses with a thank you card or a gift; host a special tea or luncheon in their honor; and/or have them wear a special ribbon or badge on the day. You can also arrange for them to speak about their road to certification and what it has meant for them in order to encourage other nurses to pursue this route.

You can learn more about certification and about various specialty areas in this Guide to Certification of the Lippincott Nursing Centre.

Frieda Paton is a registered nurse with a Master’s degree in nursing education. Her passion for nursing education, nursing issues and advocacy for the profession were ignited while she worked as an education officer, and later editor, at a national nurses’ association. This passion, together with interest in health and wellness education since her student days, stayed with her throughout her further career as a nurse educator and occupational health nurse. Having reached retirement age, she continues to contribute to the profession as a full-time freelance writer. In the news and feature articles she writes for Nurseslabs, she hopes to inspire nursing students and nurses on the job to reflect on the trends and issues that affect their profession and communities - and play their part in advocacy wherever they find themselves.