The Road to Labor and Delivery Nurse Certification
Labor and delivery nurses play a crucial role in helping women navigate the entire childbirth process.
In fact, L&D nursing requires some serious knowledge and skill. That’s why it’s so important for nurses to get the best education and training possible to help them guide patients through such an amazing, profound and intense experience.
Certification is a key component of that ongoing education. Learn more about labor and delivery nurse certification, including why it is important and how to go about it.
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Why pursue certification as an L&D nurse?
Why might labor and delivery nurses want to pursue certification on top all the work that they’re already doing?
While all the hands-on, mother-and-baby experience is definitely critical to building up your knowledge-base and honing your skills, certification goes one more step. It honors that accumulation of knowledge and expertise and builds on it. For example, you can pursue the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification (RNC-OB) offered by the National Certification Commission (NCC).
“This is a rigorous certification that acknowledges all of the specialty knowledge and skill that a nurse has attained,” said Cyndy Krening, MS, CNS, RNC-OB, C-EFM, president of the board of directors of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), who has also served on the NCC’s Inpatient OB and EFM (Electronic Fetal Monitoring) certification test committees.
Plus, certification could lead to a bump in your paycheck.
“Many hospitals offer increased compensation for certified nurses,” noted Krening.
The road to labor and delivery nurse certification
Before you consider certification, there are a few other steps to complete.
First, a future labor and delivery nurse must get a degree from an accredited nursing program. Most will need to become licensed as a registered nurse (RN), although some licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs) may be able to find a position in postpartum. To become an RN, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
Next up, you need to get Basic Life Support (BLS) certification and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification, by completing training courses that are approved by the American Heart Association. These certifications will need to be renewed every two years, and kept current throughout your career in labor and delivery.
Labor and delivery nurses also need to take a course that will enable them to become certified in neonatal resuscitation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is one organization that offers the NRP certification opportunity.
Then it’s time to log some hands-on experience. You need to become competent in areas like OB triage, normal and high-risk labor, and perioperative skills.
After two years working in the labor and delivery unit, a nurse can sit for certification in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing. You can register online to take the computer-based test through the National Certification Corporation (NCC); the current cost to apply and take the three-hour test is $325. After completing the test, you’ll receive the results within 15-21 business days.
You do have to maintain certification in order to keep those extra letters after your name.
“Certification is maintained by ongoing continuing education in our specialty area over each three-year period of recertification,” said Krening. “This education assures that certified nurses remain current in evidence-based care within our specialty.”
You might be interested in pursuing some other certifications later, as well. In addition to the RNC-OB certification, the NCC offers core certification opportunities for Low Risk Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-LRN), Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN), and Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing (RNC-NIC).
The NCC also offers subspecialty certification in areas such as Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM).
Talk to your employer or manager to ask if they recommend other certifications, too.
Other opportunities to boost your L&D career
Certification is an excellent way to boost your career as a labor and delivery nurse. You might also consider taking your skills on the road and investigating labor and delivery travel nurse jobs. These short-term assignments can help you earn a good salary while building up your experience base.
Certification can come in handy for L&D travel assignments, too. It may make you a more desirable job candidate, and could even make you eligible for extra compensation.
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