Competition for nursing jobs has increased in recent years; having an advanced degree or certification in your field of interest can help you stand out from the rest of the pack. If you work in maternal-child health, which includes labor and delivery as well as postpartum or mother-baby units, you can take the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification test offered by the National Certification Corp.
In some cases, you can command a higher salary if you obtain your certification in your chosen nursing field. In some hospitals, working toward certification is a requirement of employment. After you pass the test, you can use the initials RNC-OB to indicate your expertise. Before you can take the certifying exam, you must work in maternal-child health for at least 24 months. In addition to 24 months' experience in obstetrics, you must work a minimum of 2,000 hours in some area of obstetrics.
Studying for the Test
Just reading through your maternal-child health nursing textbooks can refresh your memory on maternal-child health concepts and help you pass the inpatient obstetrics certification. Review books created especially to help you pass the test are geared to the types of multiple choice questions found on the test, and often include practice tests. If you do better in a group, taking a review course might help you feel better prepared for the test. Some courses are offered as webinars.
Scheduling the Test
You can take either a computerized version of the test or a pencil and paper version, which is given just once a year. Computer testing is done at centralized locations, and is done year-round. The cost as of time of publication is $250 if you take the paper test at a test site, and $300 if you take the test on the computer. Additional charges can be levied if certain conditions aren't met; for example, to take the paper test, you need a group of six people. If you don't have six people, each will need to pay an additional $50. If you mail an application rather than submitting it online, you pay an additional $25. You can't submit an individual application; you must be part of a group.
Test questions will cover all aspects of the intrapartum period, including all labor, delivery and postpartum maternal and infant health issues. Typical questions might cover maternal disorders during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, fetal monitoring assessment and normal labor and delivery issues. Questions might also address pain management and obstetrical interventions such as obstetrical use of forceps or cesarean delivery. Other testing areas include normal postpartum issues as well as complications for mother and baby.
Passing the Test
You will have three hours to complete the test. If you're taking the test on the computers, you will have an opportunity to take a practice test on the computer before starting the exam. You'll be notified of your results within six weeks. If you pass, your certification is good for three years. To maintain certification, you must submit proof of continuing education hours in the field or retake the test successfully. If you fail the test, you can apply to retake it only after waiting 90 days.
- The National Certification Corp.: Inpatient Obstetric Nursing
- The National Certification Corp.: Test Sites
- The National Certification Corp.: 2012 Candidate Guide Inpatient Obstetric Nursing
- Rn.com: Nurses Reap the Rewards of Specialty Certifications
- PearlsReview.com: Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB)
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.