Certification is a voluntary process designed to protect the consumer and ensure current knowledge in the nursing specialty. These respected certifications are held only by an elite group of specialty nurses. Certification validates a nurse’s specialty knowledge for practice in a defined functional or clinical area of nursing. According to data collected by the American Board of Nursing Specialties in 2010, nurses in the U.S. and Canada held more than 588,407 certifications, an increase of more than 100,000 certificants compared to 2009 survey data. These certifications were granted by 29 different certifying organizations, and 120 different credentials designate these certifications.