West Texas VA Health Care System
What it means to be certified.
What it means to be certified
By Marjorie Harman, RN-BC
You already know most of what you need to know to become a certified nurse. While working at the Carl Vinson Veterans Administration Medical Center in Dublin, Ga., my nurse manager encouraged me to pursue certification. Sure, I was hesitant. Actually, I was scared. Nearly 20 years had passed since I was a student. Did I remember how to study? What if it was too hard?
Well, it wasn’t hard at all. In fact, I had used much of what was being taught throughout my career having spent the majority of my nursing career in different aspects of mental health: hospice, psychiatric nursing homes, public health and the Department of Corrections.
When Veterans come into my office one of the first things they see is my certification displayed proudly. Many ask, “What does the BC stand for?” I explain that it means I have passed a certification course in psychiatric-mental health, which helps me to help them more. It seems that knowing I’m certified helps Veterans feel more comfortable discussing their care with me.
Being a certified psychiatric-mental health nurse also earns respect from fellow staff members. I’ve had primary care providers call me when they are with a patient and ask for my assistance. This has helped Veterans to accept mental health consults when they previously have been reluctant to do so. It also promotes Veterans showing up for appointments when I have helped them understand mental health services ahead of time.
I received my certification in psychiatric-mental health in July of 2014. I encouraged all nurses – registered or licensed vocational nurses – to consider seeking certification in a special area of interest. VA nurses should contact their facility nurse recruiter to learn more about certification.