As professional healthcare workers, nurses need stringent and standardized accreditation to ensure that they are competent, knowledgeable, and qualified to care for any and all patients. Some licenses are mandatory for all nurses, while there are others that are optional (depending on your career goals) and attach special skills to a nurse’s title.
This quick guide will run through some of the more common nurse-related and non-nursing accreditations and licenses that most nurses work toward earning in order to gain an advantage in the hiring process.
Philippine Nurse Licensure Examination
The Philippine Nurse Licensure Examination is a prerequisite to becoming a registered nurse (RN) in the Philippines. It is a standardized test administered by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) twice a year. This exam is given to graduates of BS Nursing.
Click here to read our comprehensive guide on the NLE.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a standardized examination largely facilitated by the British Council. The aim of the IELTS is to certify non-native English language speakers wishing to study, migrate, or work abroad/overseas. By having an IELTS, employers are assured that you are proficient in the English language and can properly understand and communicate using it.
Occupational English Test (OET)
The Occupational English Test (OET) is also an English language proficiency exam, specifically for healthcare professionals. Apart from certifying that a non-native English speaker can communicate effectively in the language, the OET makes provisions for clinical communication. Healthcare, after all, has a specific language of its own with technical and scientific terms that are sensitive and certainly should not be lost in translation!
The OET is largely owned and operated by the Cambridge Assessment English. It is designed for 12 healthcare professions and is recognized by regulators, hospitals & universities in the UK, the US, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, and Singapore.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam is meant to measure English language proficiency as well. It is administered by ETS or the Educational Testing Service. There are several types of TOEFL exams; worth noting here are TOEFL Essentials and TOEFL iBT. The former is broader in scope and takes half the time to complete versus the latter, which is more widely accepted by institutions because its coverage is more integrated and 100% academic. TOEFL iBT is considered the ‘premier’ test of academic English communication. Both tests can be taken in person or online. TOEFL covers 4 sections: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is “the premier licensure exam” overseen by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). There are 2 types, the NCLEX-RN and the NCLEX-PN. The former is given to graduates of registered nursing programs, while the latter is given to graduates of practical & vocational nursing programs.
Simply put, one must pass the NCLEX to become a duly licensed nurse in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The test can be taken in the English and French languages.
The NCLEX utilizes computerized adaptive testing (CAT), which aims to make the examination as efficient as possible. The CAT blends computer technology with modern measurement theory to optimize test questions in order to render the most accurate measurement of an examinee’s competence, removing extrinsic factors that could muddle results.
Click here to read our comprehensive guide on the NCLEX.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an important certification that can be earned by anyone, even civilians. It is designed to equip individuals with the skills and confidence to respond appropriately in a cardiac or breathing emergency. Red Cross is the preeminent organization that provides CPR training. In addition, there are CPR classes specialized for healthcare providers.
Basic Life Support (BLS)
Basic life support (BLS) is an important accreditation that covers basic training in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using automated external defibrillators (AED). It is indispensable for first-responders, healthcare providers, and public safety professionals to be capable of BLS; laypeople, however, can certainly become BLS-certified too. Registered nurses are almost always required to have or are expected to have BLS training and certification when applying for a job.
Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
Advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS) training is founded on the fundamentals of BLS, but requires a higher level of skill in delivering continuous CPR. ACLS is important for nurses working in the hospital setting, especially in intensive care units (ICUs) where patients are in more critical conditions. BLS is thus a prerequisite to earning ACLS certification.
Other advanced topics covered by ACLS is understanding electrocardiograms (ECGs), administering medications, intravenous medications, intubation materials, emergency-scenario algorithms, and more. ACLS is thus designed more with healthcare professionals in mind.
Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
Training in neonatal resuscitation, as the name implies, is focused on care of the newborn. Designed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association, the neonatal resuscitation program (NRP) is grounded on providing sufficient respiratory support and establishing ample ventilation after careful and continuous monitoring and evaluation of a newborn. Anyone involved in the close care of a newborn, especially those who are known to be high-risk, should get NRP certified.
Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
Developed by the American Heart Association, pediatric advanced life support (PALS) is again founded on the basics of BLS, but designed specifically for the age groups of infants and children. The responses that are taught in PALS are purposefully easy to remember and execute, especially in times of stress. This means that PALS can be provided by an individual on an infant or child even with minimum resources and information. A PALS certification is recommended for most healthcare professionals.
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