…because you’ve been in school long enough

I received an excellent question from a nurse practitioner this weekend. This particular NP reached out about programs that allow nurse practitioners to receive specialty education or acknowledge specialty experience without returning to school for an additional degree. Most nurse practitioner programs offer broad education tracks rather than subspecialty education. So, NPs with focused interests are left to blaze their own trail toward further specialization. 

It an be difficult to land a job with an employer willing to train you so you can get a start as a more highly specialized NP. Or, if you do have experience in a specialty, you may feel there’s little to show for it on your NP resume. Fortunately, there are a few programs out there that offer this specialty education and certification to nurse practitioners looking to hone their skills in a specific area. And, these programs don’t require that NPs enroll in a formal degree program saving time and money. This week, we will look at specialty certification programs available for NPs, starting today with cardiology-related programs.  

1. Cardiac Nurse Practitioner Certification

The American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine (ABCM) offers a specialty certification exam for nurse practitioners looking to make their knowledge official. The ABCM says that the certification is recommended for NPs with at least two years of cardiology specific experience. Prep courses are available through the organization before the test to help aspiring cardiology nurse practitioners direct their study. The benefit of attaining the ABCM cardiology nurse practitioner certification? Passing the exam is evidence to prospective employers that you’re skilled in the caring for cardiac patients. 

2. Certified Hypertension Clinician 

Created specifically for NPs, PAs, MDs and Pharm Ds, the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) offers an advanced certification pathway related to the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension. The certification recognizes providers with advanced competency in this area and requires passing an exam. The ASH provides a reference list and also hosts several of its own education programs to help nurse practitioners prepare for the test. 

3. Certified Electrophysiology Specialist

Nurse practitioners with experience in the treatment and management of patients with cardiac rhythm abnormalities may wish to formalize their knowledge with one of the International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners’ (IBHRE) certifications. The organization offers several paths to certification including Certified Cardiac Device Specialist and Certified Electrophysiology Specialist paths for healthcare providers with experience in these areas. Study guides and reading lists are available to help NPs prepare for the certification exam. 

4. Clinical Lipid Specialist

Management and treatment of hyperlipidemia is a staple for many nurse practitioners, both those working in cardiology and in primary care. If you’re an NP experienced in lipid management, consider the Accreditation Council for Clinical Lipidology’s Clinical Lipid Specialist certification. The certification requires both practice experience and passing an exam. Achieving this specialized distinction helps nurse practitioners show competency in this all-important field and is even recognized by the American College of Cardiology. 

5. Heart Failure Certificate Program

The University of Southern Indiana offers a seven-week online course focused on the management of patients with heart failure. Covering physiology and pathophysiology, patient assessment, diagnostic testing, pharmacology, interventions and patient education, the course provides a comprehensive education in the diagnosis and management of patients with CHF for nurse practitioners looking to augment specialty knowledge. 

6. Cardiology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship

For nurse practitioners without cardiology experience interested in gaining a foundational education in the specialty, the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ offers a Cardiology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship. The comprehensive program awards a certificate of completion and includes 1,700 mentored clinical hours in conjunction with 300 didactic or classroom hours of instruction over a 12-month period. 

Have you taken any steps to distinguish yourself as a cardiology nurse practitioner?


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