AACN News—July 2000—Certification

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Vol. 17, No. 7, JULY 2000


Demonstrate the Power Behind Your Credentials

CCRNs who have been continuously certified for 20 years or more were recognized at the annual Certification Luncheon at the NTI. Receiving their certificates for 24 or more years of continuous certification from 1999-2000 AACN Certification Corporation Chairperson Kimmith Jones (right) were (from left) Melinda Smyth, Sharon Witmer, Michael Beaty, Theresa Adelgais and Mary Gottschall. Certificates are being mailed to CCRNs who were unable to attend the luncheon.

Attaining and demonstrating a certain level of knowledge carries not only personal and institutional benefits, but also benefits that are passed on to patients and their families, according to Kimmith M. Jones, RN, MS, chairperson of the AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors.

In a speech titled “Flying in Formation: the Power of Credentials,” delivered at the annual Certification Luncheon at AACN’s National Teaching Institute in Orlando, Fla., Jones said the power of nursing comes through both position power and expert power. Although critical care nurses have expert power, they can, as a group with defined direction, accomplish more, he said.

With certification comes a sense of pride, accomplishment, responsibility and accountability, he noted.

In terms of institutional benefits, certification builds dedicated professionals who help decrease the length of stay, impact an organization’s bottom line and influence positive patient outcomes, Jones said. For patients and families, certification means assurances that their practitioners have the knowledge base to care for them, match their needs and improve their outcomes.

Motivators and stressors, which are everyday aspects of critical care nursing practice, must be identified, Jones continued. Stressors include complex patient assignments, being watched closely from a patient and financial perspective, and noncollaborative relationships. Motivators include patients and families who say, “Thank you for being there.” It is also nice when administrators, physicians and nurse colleagues express their appreciation, he added.

Overcoming obstacles, such as new nurses entering the critical care environment before they are ready to practice independently, is a step-by-step process, Jones said. Lengthening the orientation process or adjusting assignments so that nurses are not immediately assigned the most complex cases is one way to accommodate the learning curve, he said.

Jones cited other obstacles as a lack of collaboration with other members of the healthcare team, the call to do more with less, not having a clear vision of the future and naysayers.

“We can all identify naysayers in our units,” Jones said. “They’re the ones who say, ‘We tried that five years ago and it didn’t work. It’s not going to work tomorrow when you try it again.’ My favorite is individuals who say, ‘That will happen when pigs fly.’

“Well, guess what? Pigs are growing wings,” Jones said. “I encourage you to help these pigs grow their wings and to move things forward.”

Adequate staffing, the right number and mix of people and collaboration with multidisciplinary teams and nurse colleagues can help move things forward, Jones continued.

“No matter what the obstacle, stressor, facilitator or motivator, it always comes back to the patients and their family—their perception of what we do for them,” he said.

Curley Honored for Contributions

Martha A.Q. Curley, RN, PhD, CCNS, CCRN, FAAN, was presented the AACN Certification Corporation Special Contributor Award at AACN’s National Teaching Institute in May 2000 in Orlando, Fla.

The award, which is part of the Circle of Excellence recognition program, is presented to individuals who make significant contributions to the corporation’s work and mission. Curley was cited for demonstrating far-reaching influence that has helped AACN Certification Corporation maintain its position as a leader in credentialing and in creating safe passage in healthcare for patients.

Curley, a former chairperson of the AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors, is a pediatric advanced practice nurse at Children’s Hospital-Boston in Massachusetts.

During her tenure on the AACN Certification Corporation Board, Curley guided discussions that moved the corporation forward in adopting the Synergy Model as the reconceptualized framework of critical care nursing certification. She also served as a member of the AACN Certification Corporation Think Tank, which began the task of redefining the certification process. In addition, she has been a member of the Subject Matter Experts for the Study of Practice, the Outcomes Think Tank and the Strategic Think Tank.

Curley’s dedication to making the Synergy Model a reality has been focused both in her own unit and for others. She has significantly contributed to creating a safe passage for patients and families and has taken the profession of nursing to a new dimension.

Grant Supports Research on Patient and Family Perceptions

The first AACN Certification Corporation Research Grant has been awarded to Daphne Stannard, RN, PhD, to begin a study of patients’ and families’ experiences, perceptions and expectations with respect to the quality of care they received during hospitalization.

The award, totalling $10,000, will be applied to the first of a three-phase study titled “Patients’ and Families’ Perceptions of Being Cared for Well.” The project aims to validate and use the Synergy Model as a conceptual framework to develop an instrument to measure patient and family satisfaction.

Stannard is assistant clinical professor in the Department of Nursing at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center. Martha A.Q. Curley, RN, PhD, CCNS, CCRN, FAAN, a pediatric advanced practice nurse at Children’s Hospital-Boston, is co-principal investigator, and will take the lead on later phases of the project. Both Stannard and Curley served on the AACN Certification Corporation Subject Matter Group, which helped develop the Synergy Model.

Up to four AACN Certification Corporation grants of as much as $10,000 each are available each year to support research related to certified practice. The next round of applications must be received by Feb. 1, 2001.

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


Kerfoot Urges Nurses to Live a Life of Significance

As healthcare evolves, pioneers are needed among nurses to reflect advances in genetic research and the influence of information technology in patient education and care, said Karlene Kerfoot, RN, PhD, CNAA, FAAN, during the Special Certification Session at AACN’s National Teaching Institute in May 2000 in Orlando, Fla.

In a speech titled “Critical Care Nursing: Living a Life of Significance,” Kerfoot said the same types of pioneers among nurses of the past are needed to create another kind of history.

“In reality, critical care nursing might not be in the hospital of the future,” Kerfoot said. “It might be in the home, it might be in virtual reality or it might be in caring for patients who have had robotic surgery.”

To be a part of this future, nurses must constantly be committed to reinventing and reinvigorating themselves and their practice, she suggested.

Kerfoot said a possible nursing model for the future are the 16 U.S. “magnet” hospitals, where mortality rates are 50% to 60% lower than average. Mortality rates are also reduced in settings with a high level of collaboration between physicians and nurses, she noted. The goal now should be to raise the level of practice in all hospital settings to mirror these results.

“We know enough now about how to structure healthcare to make it safe and instill programs that will make it safe,” she said.

By taking part in elevating the practice of healthcare, nurses add significance to their roles, she added.

Kerfoot stressed the importance of drawing attention to the significance of the nursing profession to ensure that qualified and dedicated individuals both enter and remain in nursing. Maintaining such a body of nurses will only serve to further elevate the level of care, she said.

Nurses also must put more effort into taking care of colleagues, she said. In a study of post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans, survivors of disasters and critical care nurses, the incidence was highest among nurses, yet there is little, if any counseling made available for nurses, she said.

Renewed attention to nurses’ well-being is just one element of creating a “sanctuary of healing” in hospitals for both patients and caregivers, Kerfoot continued.

Emphasis should also be placed on creating a healing environment in hospitals. Most ICUs are a cacophony of chaotic sounds, compared with neonatal ICUs, where the sounds are nurturing. Adult patients need a nurturing environment just as much as infants do, Kerfoot said.

Similarly, families are welcomed in pediatric or maternity wards, but are kept away from adult patients who are undergoing invasive procedures.

Patients want a more interactive relationship with their caregivers, and want to take a larger role in their care, she said. This will require a shift in focus, as most hospitals are set up to cure the disease, not to heal the body and spirit.

“Patients and caregivers can’t be lost in the onrush of change,” Kerfoot said.

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