DDNA certification info

by loveDDRN (New) New

hello everyone! i was wondering if anyone knew anything about getting cddn certification. i am currently an rn student living in ny state planning to graduate in may 2011. i have worked with individuals with disabilities for almost 10 years and love it.i really want to specialize in this field and am having a difficult time navigating my way through it ~so any information is surely welcomed! i read on the ddna website that you must have 4,000 hours of experience as an rn working with this population of individuals before sitting for the exam. after i graduate would it be best for me to start working right away with an agency that is specific to helping people with disabilities and working my way up to getting the certification or is it better to get the 'hospital experience' first? my ultimate goal is to become a np and work specifically with this population. it seems wise to obtain cddn ... or am i being mislead? is it difficult to get hired within these agencies as a *new* rn? thank you to any information provided! it is greatly appreciated.

Edited by loveDDRN


Specializes in Psych, I/DD. Has 2 years experience. 20 Posts

loveDDRN I'm soo glad to hear how much you love this field! I started my RN career at Day Hab and absolutely fell in love! (Clearly agencies do hire new grads - I graduated in 2008) From that I moved to Residential and I also do Home Care for this population. I also want to get my NP (in Mental Health) and work with this population. Now here's the thing; I am the only person out of a group of 7 close nursing students who never worked in the hospital. At times I would think to myself; generally after telling a person I'm a nurse and their first response was "well what hospital do you work in?" UGH!, I need hospital experience. However, I've never worked a weekend or holiday, I get awesome benefits and sick/personal/vacation days, and I even got to go on a paid vacation to Virgina Beach with "my guys" (working residential they like them to "get away" and AMAP staff are not allowed to give medications outside of NYS) So considering all of this I have no desire to work in a hospital setting, plus with all the autonomy you get working within this population, I don't think I could deal with the hierarchy of a hospital. If you want to work towards your NP in family practice, or primary care, I would assume they want hospital experience. I however want my NP in Mental Health so what I do now is sufficient. Its a sticky choice. I'm also going to eventually go for my DDRN certification. I think as nurses in this very scarce population we have to represent! I wish you the absolute best of luck and congrats for your May 2011 graduation! You're almost there!!!:yeah:


7 Posts

Thank you so much for responding! I really really appreciate it!:redbeathe I am nervous about being able to find a job within this field and to be completely honest i dont want to do anything else. Working with the DD population is so interesting and the thing that i love best about it is as a nurse you actually can provide holistic care to every patient. Along with spending time with them and getting to know them. I feel that within the hospital situation you are not able to give this kind of care because of staff shortages and patient overload. Plus people come in and out everyday. I would love to hear more about your personal experience within this field.. what you love and what you could do without. Is it difficult to have so many people working under your licence? Is it hard to stay organized taking care of so many individuals? I have worked in this field and havent been able to fully establish a relationship with an RN because we have had a very high turn over rate (2 of the ladies who i have worked with became extremely ill and passed away sadly.) So thank you again for taking the time to respond. In my experience the RN usually has 60 patients and has roughly 20-30 people passing medications daily under their licence.

Did you have any prior experience within this field before becoming an RN? If not how did you manage to fall into the career?

thank you so much for your time!


Specializes in DD, Geriatrics. Has 24 years experience. 12 Posts

DD nursing is Great! I have been certified as CDDN since2002. The ddna and the annual conference are awesome networking opportunities.


Specializes in School Nursing, Developmental Disability. Has 20 years experience. 3 Posts

Hi! I am new to allnurse.com, but took the CDDN exam 3 years ago. It is alot of studying, but well worth it! I also have been a RN for 20 years and feel that typically a new grad would receive better transition into the field training/preceptorship in the hospital setting. That is just my opinion though! I have been a school nurse for 12 years now & most schools will not consider employing a nurse without hospital experience to advance their skills. In a public school you never know what is going to come through your doors & you must be prepared for any & everything without another healthcare professional immediately available to rely on for advice.

If you have specific questions about DDNA or the CDDN, feel free to ask- or attend DDNA's annual conference- they are fabulous!! Happy Easter!


11 Posts

Hello, I was wondering for those of you that are DDNA certified, other than the knowledge you gained from become certified, what other benefits did getting certified give you? Do employers offer a pay increase for those who are certified vs not? Any info is much appreciated!