Julie OssFollow

Date of Completion of Thesis/SIP

Winter 12-8-2020

Document Type

Scholarly Inquiry Paper (SIP)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



First Advisor

Dr. Sandra Paddock, DNP, APRN, CNP, CNE, CME, PHN


Healthcare organizations are charged with controlling rising costs, integrating services, and improving the quality of care. This Scholarly Inquiry Project has led to a closer look at the impact nurses have on patient care outcomes. Little research correlates specialty nurse certification with patient outcomes, even though certification is the hallmark of excellence in clinical nursing practice. Qualitative data validates that nurses who attain specialty certification report feeling more empowered, having additional innate worth, and more collaborative influence. Despite the robust subjective evidence, limited data exist to demonstrate the objective benefits of specialty certification on patient outcomes. The purpose of this project is to explore the impact of certified nurses in acute care hospitals on patient outcomes. The Nursing Intellectual Capital model guided this project as it supports the combination of nursing human capital characteristics (academic preparation, specialty certification, and experience), which are linked with improved quality patient care. Overall, the literature revealed limited and inadequate evidence for nurse-sensitive outcomes. A potential exists for nurse certification to improve nurse-sensitive patient outcomes; however, future research must account for variations in measurement tools, patient outcomes, and the different types of certifications. Identifying how specialty nurse certification impacts nurse-sensitive patient outcomes is critical for healthcare administrators who determine the potential return on investment for potentially providing reimbursement of specialty certification costs for nurses.


This Scholarly Inquiry Project would not be possible without the ongoing encouragement, guidance, and contributions from Dr. Sandra Paddock, DNP, APRN, CNP, CNE, CME, PHN at Winona State University for being the faculty advisor for this project. My project would not have been possible without her unwavering support and insightful feedback, which helped push me to sharpen my thinking and brought my work to a higher level. I would also like to express my gratitude to Dr. Jenny A. Prochnow, DNP, MBA, RNC-MNN, NEA-BC, PHN at Winona State University for being the SIP committee member for this project, as well as my advisor in the Nursing and Organizational Leadership program. Her willingness to give her time and feedback so generously to this project has been very much appreciated. Furthermore, I wish to express heartfelt gratitude to my husband, Brandon, for being my number one cheerleader throughout this project and always telling me how proud he is of me. Lastly, I wish to acknowledge the support and great love of my family, friends, and my pet, Bentley, who was my devoted companion during the writing process.

Available for download on Thursday, February 01, 2024

Included in

Nursing Commons