STN Position on Trauma Nursing Specialty Certification

STN Position on Trauma Nursing Specialty Certification

Certification, as defined by the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS), is the formal recognition of the specialized knowledge, skills, and experience demonstrated by the achievement of standards identified by a nursing specialty to promote optimal health outcomes.1

The Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) recognizes trauma nursing as a nursing specialty that is dedicated to providing optimal patient care across the continuum which includes injury prevention, prehospital care, acute care, rehabilitation, and reintegration into society.2

Nurses specializing in trauma are the largest component of the trauma team workforce, and are essential for accessible, effective, and efficient care for injured patients. Trauma nurses routinely care for patients who demonstrate acute and complicated conditions that require a high level of skill and competence to treat.3

In addition to possessing in-depth clinical knowledge, trauma nurses are also often responsible for trauma quality and safety, trauma program management, research, and public health and education related to the prevention of violence and injury.

Specialty certification examination has been recognized as a reliable mechanism for assessing the knowledge, skills, and experience of nurses. Nursing certification is widely recognized by credentialing bodies such as Magnet® as a means of differentiating among nurses through the use of consensus-based standards.4,5,6,7 Certification is a voluntary process that distinguishes certificants for meeting or exceeding recognized, rigorous standards.

Society Position
  • STN believes that specialty certification in trauma nursing is an important tool for validating the attainment of a defined body of trauma nursing knowledge.
  • STN believes that the process of preparation for trauma nursing certification examination benefits nurses and patients. It encourages nurses to review clinical and professional areas of practice, and to acquire additional beneficial education as needed to obtain the necessary knowledge within trauma to successfully achieve certification.
  • STN believes that nurses who specialize in the delivery of trauma care should seek trauma nursing certification.
  • STN believes that trauma specialty certification should be incorporated into nursing professional development models and trauma program verification and accreditation standards.
  • STN believes that the required body of knowledge in the specialty of trauma is best obtained over a period of time. STN therefore does not recommend trauma specialty certification for those nurses with less than two years of trauma program experience, as is consistent with recommendations by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN).8
  1. American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) website. Accessed on June 1, 2018 at the following location:
  2. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Berwick D, Downey A, Cornett E, editors. A National Trauma Care System: Integrating Military and Civilian Trauma Systems to Achieve Zero Preventable Deaths After Injury. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2016 Sep 12. 6, Delivering Patient-Centered Trauma Care. Available from:
  3. Society of Trauma Nurses Statement on Qualifications, Competencies, and Continuing Education for Trauma Nursing (2016).
  4. Stobinski, J.X. (2015). Certification and patient safety. AORN Journal, 101(3), 375-378.
  5. Schroeter, Kathryn (2015). The value of certification. Journal of Trauma Nursing Volume 22 (2). 53-54.
  6. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, AACN Certification Corporation. (2003). Safeguarding the patient and the profession: The value of critical care nurse certification. American Journal of Critical Care. 12:154-164.
  7. Niebuhr, B. Biel, M. (2007). The value of specialty nursing certification. Nursing Outlook. 55(4) 176-181.
  8. Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing website. Accessed on June 1, 2018 at the following location:
Adopted: June 14, 2018

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The Society of Trauma Nurses is a professional nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure optimal trauma care to all people locally, regionally, nationally and globally through initiatives focused on trauma nurses related to prevention, education and collaboration with other healthcare disciplines.

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