UBC Graduate Research

History and Context of Specialty Nursing in British Columbia: Mandatory or Voluntary Certification Seyl, Nicole


The trend towards mandatory certification for specialty practice has gained momentum in British Columbia (BC). Mandatory certification has been enforced by BC’s employers through posted job descriptions and qualifications for employment even though support for claims correlating positive patient outcomes with nurse certification is lacking within the empirical data. Thirty empirical, grey and policy documents were reviewed for insight into the development of mandatory certification in BC, complemented by a scan of the job postings of BC health authorities, to provide context on the current state of mandatory certification. The authors examine the history of certification in BC with consideration of the organizational, social, technological and political trends associated with its development. A review of the relationship between certification and patient/nurse outcomes is provided to inform decision-makers and nurses on the benefits and challenges associated with mandatory certification.

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