Nursing Certification Through Portfolio Promotes Professional Development and Performance

VBCR - December 2015, Volume 4, No 6 - Online First, The Rheumatology Nurse
Wayne Kuznar

The certification through portfolio process can be used to promote the rheumatology nurse’s professional development and performance, said Sheree C. Carter, PhD, RN, at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Rheumatology Nurses Society (RNS).1

In 2014, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the RNS announced plans to develop a new board certification through portfolio for rheumatology nursing.2 Nurses certified through the ANCC portfolio assessment method are regarded as experts in their specialties.

The portfolio certification process is already used by many professions and is a practical alternative to paper testing, which requires a separate board to oversee the certification process, said Dr Carter, Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing, Tuscaloosa.

“The portfolio contains material that illustrates growth and change over time,” she said. “It has value for the individual and has value for the organization.”

As a portable mechanism for evaluating competencies, the portfolio captures the lifelong learning journey of a rheumatology nurse, from novice to competency to expert, demonstrating the continuing acquisition of skills, knowledge, and achievement. The cost to submit a portfolio is $525 for nonmembers of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and $470 for members of the ANA/RNS.

“The portfolio is renewable every 5 years,” said Dr Carter. “The portfolio is comprehensive…it gives a rich history of what and who you are as an individual nurse. You’re going to be keeping a journal, and sharing that with the ANCC and sharing that with others.”

The partial criteria for certification are:

  • RN licensure (active)
  • Minimum of 2 years full-time as an RN
  • Minimum 1500 clinical hours in rheumatology in the past 3 years
  • 30 hours of continuing education in rheumatology/rheumatology nursing in the past 3 years.

The ANCC has a webinar/video on the certification through portfolio application requirements. The ANCC has 4 domains for becoming recognized as a specialty practice nurse, with criteria under each domain reviewed by an independent panel, which grades how the portfolio meets the objectives within the domains. The 4 domains are (1) professional development, (2) professional and ethical nursing practice, (3) teamwork and collaboration, and (4) quality and safety.

“We’re going to be telling somebody in another way exactly what we do, and how we do it, and what we think about it, and what we feel about it, and what we need to be more successful for our patients,” she said. “If it’s not documented, it wasn’t done. We have to document what we do as rheumatology nurses or it’s not captured.”

For example, self-assessment would fall under professional development and would include an assessment of learning needs and the development of goals to address these needs. “In order to do that, we need to go by our scoping standards of practice and our core curriculum,” said Dr Carter. Knowledge and skills acquired in infusion nursing, research and clinical trials, education, and pharmacology are skills specific to rheumatology nursing that might be documented.

Applicants need to write objectives and outcomes, describe activities, and set target dates to complete and review progress. Nurses must also identify how they achieved their learning and provide evidence of change after reflection on progress made. Records of continuing education and exemplars will serve as evidence of professional development.

Similar documentation would be required for the other domains, specific to rheumatology, such as providing care to patients with rheumatologic diseases and comorbid conditions; collaborating with consumers and healthcare providers to improve access to and delivery of care, and integrated services for rheumatology patients; and raising awareness of environmental health risks, including biologic medication storage and handling, and risk-reduction strategies.


  1. Carter SC. Deep dive: promoting professional development and performance through the certification through the portfolio process. Presented at: 2015 Annual Meeting of the Rheumatology Nurses Society; August 6-8, 2015; Orlando, FL.
  2. ANCC and RNS announce first board certification in rheumatology nursing [news release]. Silver Spring, MD: Rheumatology Nurses Society; August 7, 2014. Updated September 20, 2014. Accessed September 2, 2015.
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