Methods of nursing certification in North America–A scoping review

Kathy Chappell, Robin Newhouse, Vicki Lundmark, Rima ElChamaa, Dahn Jeong, Deborah Kendall Gallagher, Elizabeth Salt, Simon Kitto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Definitions of nursing certification are lacking in the research literature and research on certification in nursing is remarkably limited. Methods: A six-stage scoping review framework was used to identify the nature, extent, and range of certification within the nursing literature. Findings: Thirty-six articles were included in this scoping review. Most originated in the United States (89%), were classified as research articles (56%), and used a quantitative approach (90%). The majority focused on initial certification (50%), and written examination was the most prevalent approach to certification (39%). Missing and incomplete data were prevalent. Discussion: The overall lack of nursing certification origin, focus, methodological rigor, and clear certification mastery criteria have hindered meaningful study of the relationship between nursing certification and patient outcomes. Common data elements, reporting standards, and observational studies linking common data elements and patient outcomes could guide future research and improve the transparency of certification processes and reporting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-493
Number of pages10
JournalNursing Outlook
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Certification
  • North america
  • Nursing
  • Scoping review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (all)


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