Assessing the link between certification, patient outcomes, and nursing behaviors

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News and views in staff development

As educators, we place great emphasis on the effect of continuing education and training and on the pursuit of specialty certification. We recognize individuals for their knowledge and skills, but it’s also important to investigate whether there is a link between certification, improved job performance, and enhanced patient outcomes.

To date, most of the research on certification has focused on nurses’ attitudes about the value of certification (Drenkard, 2010). However, a recent Journal of Nursing Administration (JONA) special supplement examines the issue and contains seven previously published articles that “portray the state of the science of research about nursing certification” (JONA, 2010). 

Of special interest to staff development specialists is the article entitled “Certification and education: Do they affect pressure ulcer knowledge in nursing?” Data were collected from 460 nurses. Questions were asked about certification status, highest level of formal academic education completed, years of nursing experience, and what types of continuing education activities pertaining to wound care the nurses participated in. Such activities included independent study, reading books or journal articles, and attending lectures. Knowledge scores showed a significant difference between nurses certified in wound care and those who were not certified. 

These types of studies should trigger significant interest among staff development specialists. As we pursue evidence to document the effect of education on patient outcomes and job performance, we should consider including information on certification status. 


Drenkard, K. (2010). “JONA certification supplement.” JONA 40(10), Supplement 10: 51–52.