AACN News—January 2000—Certification

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Vol. 17, No. 1, JANUARY 2000

Recognition of CCNS Exam Sought From State Nursing Boards

AACN Certification Corporation has contacted the State Boards of Nursing in all 50 states to request recognition of the CCNS� certification exam for clinical nurse specialists in acute and critical care.

Depending on the wording of its specific statute or rule, each state that recognizes the clinical nurse specialist role for advanced practice status may have the option to provide some type of approval of the CCNS exam process. This recognition can be either by:
* Approval of the AACN Certification Corporation as an authorized certification body acceptable to the board
* Approval of the examination itself as a certifying examination acceptable to the board

To date, either the CCNS exam has been approved or AACN Certification Corporation has been listed as an approved certification body in the following states: Alabama, California, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. Updates will be provided as the approval process moves through the state boards.

Note: Certification obtained through AACN Certification Corporation is a voluntary process and is intended to test only for specialized knowledge. AACN Certification Corporation is not authorized to define qualifications of any person for nursing practice. The significance of certification in any jurisdiction is dependent on the statutes in that jurisdiction, and it is the individual candidate’s responsibility to contact the appropriate state board of nursing to obtain information pertaining to licensure requirements.

Certified Nurses to Celebrate

Certified nurses will be spotlighted at AACN’s National Teaching Institute™ and Critical Care Exposition, May 20 through 25, 2000, in Orlando, Fla. Watch for the conference brochure, which is being distributed this month.

In 2000, the annual CCRN� Luncheon is being expanded to celebrate the accomplishments of all nurses certified through AACN Certification Corporation. Joining the CCRNs will be clinical nurse specialists who have achieved CCNS� certification, as well as acute care nurse practitioners, who are certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center in collaboration with AACN Certification Corporation.

AACN Certification Corporation Chairperson Kimmith Jones, RN, MS, CCRN, will speak at the luncheon, which will be followed by a special session featuring Karlene M. Kerfoot, RN, PhD, CNNA, FAAN. Kerfoot is vice president of patient care operations at Hermann Hospital and vice president of patient care development and organizational development for the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System.

For more information about NTI 2000, call (800) 899-2226, or visit the NTI Web site. The discounted, early-bird deadline to register is April 11, 2000.

Study Aids Can Improve Your Chances on the CCRN Exam

Are you worried about passing the CCRN� exam? You are not alone. Your concern is understandable, because the CCRN exam is difficult.

In addition, you may be paying the examination fee without assistance from your employer, and you can’t be 100% sure that you will pass. Although the overall pass rate is about 68%, the pass rate for first-time examinees is slightly lower.
However, there are ways you can improve your chances of passing. The first is to not assume that your practice alone has prepared you for this exam.

The CCRN exam is based on the Study of Practice, conducted most recently in 1998, which surveyed the current practice of critical care nursing nationwide. Your individual practice may not conform exactly to the practice outlined by the study. Although the exam is based on the practice of the "average" critical care nurse, it is not likely to mirror absolutely any one nurse’s practice.

Does that mean that you should not take the exam? Not at all! However, it does mean that you will need to spend time studying, particularly those areas that you may not see as often in your unit and that weigh the most heavily on the exam, such as cardiovascular and pulmonary on the adult and pediatric exams, and pulmonary and multisystem on the neonatal.

The exam blueprint outline can be found in the CCRN Exam Handbook, which is available free of charge by calling (800) 899-2226 or online at www.certcorp.org. This document will give you some idea of where you will need to focus your efforts. The complete blueprint, which lists all knowledge statements underlying the clinical judgment portion of the exam, is available for $8.50 for AACN members ($10 for nonmembers).

In addition, various review courses and materials are available to help you study for the CCRN exam. Excellent resources are available from AACN, as well as from other sources. You will need to decide which materials or combinations of materials will likely work best for you, based on your personal learning style.

For example, many candidates find studying in small groups useful, either through a class or by recruiting colleagues. Others prefer to use textbooks and/or sample exams.

For information on materials available through AACN, call (800) 899-2226 or visit the AACN Web site at http://www.aacn.org.

If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you can apply to take it again any time within the next two years at a reduced rate of $170 for AACN members ($250 for nonmembers). In preparing for another attempt, it will be important to take a look at the results sheet, which will be sent to you by PES (the testing company) approximately six weeks after you took the exam. While looking at the exam blueprint-which indicates which scores weighed most heavily-pay attention to how you did on each of the individual sections. For example, if you received a 100% on the renal section, but only 50% on the pulmonary, you will not do nearly as well as if you received 50% on the renal and 100% on the pulmonary section, because there are many more pulmonary than renal questions on the exam. Generally, the easiest way to improve your score on your next attempt is to spend the bulk of your time improving your scores on the three or four sections that weigh most heavily on the exam (these vary between the neonatal, pediatric and adult examinations).

AACN Certification Corporation recognizes that the CCRN examination cannot measure the true value of a nurse. A number of things may contribute to a candidate not passing the exam, such as skill in test-taking, practice in a unit that differs significantly from the Study of Practice on which the exam is based, and aspects of a person’s personal life that make it very difficult to study.

Regardless of the outcome, the process of studying for the CCRN exam will improve your practice, because of the review of materials and acquisition of new knowledge that are inherent in the preparation.

ACNP Conference Scheduled for Chicago

The 8th Annual Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Conference is scheduled for April 6 through 9, 2000, in Chicago, Ill. Conference information is now available online.

The conference will address ACNP practice, education and role implementation issues. Several symposia that address clinical management topics are also planned. An Advanced Practice Nurse Skills Workshop and the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s Fundamental Critical Care Support Course will be offered as preconferences on April 6.

The ACNP conference is sponsored by Rush University College of Nursing, University of Illinois College of Nursing and Loyola University School of Nursing. Ruth Kleinpell, RN, PhD, CCRN, ACNP, is the conference chair.

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