AACN News—October 2001—Certification
Vol. 18, No. 10, OCTOBER 2001
Wanted: Certification Research Proposals|
By Suzanne S. Prevost, RN, PhD, CNAA
AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors
Do you wonder whether certification truly makes a difference in quality of care and patient outcomes? Does a certification review course increase a nurse’s chances of successfully passing an exam? Are job satisfaction levels higher among certified or noncertified nurses? Does the Synergy Model capture the essence of certified nursing practice?
The answers to these and other questions can be found through research. Although most certified nurses believe that certification makes a positive impact for nurses and patients, few research studies have been completed and published to support this notion. One recent study, conducted by the Nursing Credentialing Research Coalition, surveyed more than 19,000 certified nurses in the U.S. and Canada. Nurses in this study perceived that certification helped them to practice more confidently and more competently.
However, this study did not compare the certified nurses to a control group of noncertified nurses, nor did the study measure patient outcomes. Thus, additional research is needed to demonstrate and communicate the impact of certification to nurses, healthcare administrators, insurance companies, policymakers and the public.
Recognizing the need for this type of research, AACN Certification Corporation has funded research projects related to certified practice. Four grants of up to $10,000 are available each year. Since the grant was established in 1999, two certification-related studies have been funded. Both are in progress.
Daphne Stannard, RN, PhD, CCRN, of San Francisco is conducting a phenomenological study to investigate patient and family experiences, perceptions, and expectations related to being cared for well during their hospitalizations. Martha A.Q Curley, RN, PhD, CCNS, FAAN, of Boston is conducting a similar study focusing on hospitalized children and their parents. Both of these studies are expected to yield data that will help refine the Synergy Model of certified practice, which says that the needs or characteristics of patients and families influence and drive the characteristics or competencies needed by nurses.
Any nurse who is interested in studying certification is eligible to apply for one of these grants. Applicants do not need to be certified or have advanced degrees. Applications by nurse researchers who are not AACN members are welcome.
The grants may be used to support thesis or dissertation research. Collaborative research teams, including practicing nurses and nurse researchers, are particularly encouraged to apply.
The next application deadline for the Certification Corporation Research Grants is Feb. 1, 2002.
To obtain grant application materials, call (800) 899-2226 and request Item #1013, or visit the AACN Web site at
Respect, Recognition, Reward: Certification Represents Inner Strengths
When Elizabeth M. Nolan, RN, MS, CS, chair of the AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors invited CCRNs and CCNSs to rediscover the value of certification by sharing their stories–their challenges and their successes—some responded loudly. In response to this enthusiasm, AACN News will publish excerpts from these stories as part of the monthly “Certification Connection” coverage throughout the year. Here are a just a few.
When I heard about the CCRN exam in 1987, I believed that taking it was the proper thing to do. I didn’t know anyone else planning to take the test and, though preparatory classes were available, I chose the self-study method. I spent the night before the exam studying hard and, the next morning, joined a couple of hundred other groggy nurses outside the lecture hall where the exam was to be administered. Although I noticed other nurses still cramming for the exam, I spent my time centering my mind on becoming a resourceful well of readily available information. I clearly remember feeling drained after the exam, but about six weeks later, I was a very proud CCRN. I have diligently maintained my certification since that glorious day.
I believe CCRN certification identifies nurses who understand the need to go the extra mile, from a professional standpoint. It represents personal excellence—a desire to be the best they can be. Recertification requires a commitment to continuing education and may be the catalyst for more expansive projects to fulfill the demands of the recertification criteria.
Although having my CCRN has earned me extra money, because I have worked at hospitals that recognize its value, that is not what motivated me. I believe it has a moral, ethical, professional and spiritual value, and that it represents your inner strengths and beliefs.
I suspect that nurses who seek and achieve specialty certifications may be more immune to “burn-out.” I know that it has guided me to remain focused on continuous learning.
Peter Hupp, RN, ADN, CCRN
Becoming certified as a CCRN was a very special time for me. I know that I won the respect of many physicians during my 19 years of certification.
Illness forced me to retire before I reached the 20-year goal. However, I am one of the CCRNs who encouraged the CCRN-Retired status. I was so proud of my CCRN certification that I wanted to do something to carry it on in some form or another.
I am still proud to be able to write CCRN-R after my name.
Barbara A. Brockway, RN, CCRN-R
Yorba Linda, Calif.
Are you certified? What part does certification play in your professional life? Send your stories of certification to AACN News, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; fax, (949) 362-2049; e-mail,
U.S.-Licensed Canadian Nurses Eligible for CCRN Exam
Critical care nurses licensed under the Canadian Nurses Association Testing Service exam are now eligible to sit for the CCRN certification exam. Previously, only nurses licensed under the National Council Licensure Examination were eligible to take the exam.
However, some states grant licensure to Canadian nurses who have passed the CNATS exam. Viewing the NCLEX restriction as unfair, the AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors approved the change.
Certified Nurses Can Save on AACN Membership Fees
CCRN- and CCNS-certified nurses can now take advantage of a special AACN membership offer that saves 15% off the already discounted three-year membership rate. That’s in addition to the fact that certification exam and renewal fees are discounted for AACN members. This new membership rate is being offered in recognition of the achievement and commitment to excellence that CCRNs and CCNSs demonstrate by becoming certified in their critical care specialty area. The special three-year membership can be renewed at the special $179.35 rate for as long as your certification is current. All you have to do to take advantage of this special offer is make note of this special price on your application or renewal.
For more information about this special offer, call (800) 899-2226.
Is Your Practice Synergistic?
Do you apply the Synergy Model in your practice? Do the unique characteristics of your patients dictate the nursing competencies you use? If so, we would like to share your special stories in the “Synergy Model in Practice” feature in Critical Care Nurse. Send your stories to AACN Certification Corporation, Attn: Certification Specialist Liz Miller, RN, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; e-mail,
For the Record
Ethel Pike, RN, MA, CCRN, has been a pediatric CCRN since 1992. She formerly also held her adult CCRN certification from 1978 to 1998. She was listed incorrectly in the June 2000 issue of AACN News as being a former, 20-year CCRN.