It's Time to Renew: the Value of
Certification Over Time
By Rebecca Long, RN, MS, CNS, CCRN
AACN and AACN Certification Corporation
Boards of Directors
As a member of the AACN Certification
Corporation Board of Directors, I have learned a great deal about the background
and the business of certification. For example, I didn't know that certifying
agencies seek "accreditation" by another agency. For example, the National
Commission for Certifying Agencies accredits the AACN Certification Corporation.
NCCA is a national accreditation body for
private certification organizations in all disciplines. NCCA accreditation
mandates a job analysis of current nursing practice every five years to ensure
that the testing is actually measuring practice.
As my knowledge regarding certification
increased, I reflected on my own journey toward certification and why those
"initials" earned 18 years ago are so important to me year after year.
After transitioning to a medical-surgical
clinical nurse specialist role, I applied for inactive CCRN status, because I
didn't realize that I could maintain certification while practicing outside the
ICU. The critically ill patients I was seeing, some chronically critically ill,
were invading the outer bounds of the hospital and overflowing into the home
I missed being able to declare the CCRN
status for which I had worked so hard and, after revisiting the CCRN eligibility
guidelines, sought active status again.
I have talked with other long-standing
CCRNs who feel as I do about the value of certification. What they say about
their reasons for being certified validates the AACN Certification Corporation's
certification process. It may also validate your journey toward certification.
Here's what a couple of CCRNs had to say:
Pride in Knowledge
"I braved that test a second time. It was
that important to me!" said Jeanne McCartney, RN, BSN, CCRN, a CCRN for 17 years
and a staff nurse at the VA Healthcare System in San Diego, Calif., where I
practice. During a period of family commitments, Jeanne was unable to acquire
the clinical hours required to renew her CCRN certification. "I felt a real
pride in my skills and knowledge base to take it and pass it a second time," she
Asked about her ability to maintain
certification, she said she works hard to compile the required CERPs through a
variety of activities. "It was easier when I was in my BSN program, but I know
what those initials represent, and staying clinically abreast is something I
place as a priority."
Jeanne has also been an advocate for
certification to new nurses by spreading the word of the local chapter's
"giveback" of $100 to any nurse who becomes a new CCRN.
Commitment and Respect
"I sought the professional satisfaction and
gratitude," said Justin Milici, RN, CEN, CFRN, CCRN. A trauma resource nurse at
Baylor University in Dallas, Texas, Justin has been certified as a CCRN for 12
years. He believes that certification validates his knowledge and commitment to
his profession, and continues his CCRN certification even though it is not
required for his role.
"I also believe I gain a certain amount of
respect from other nurses and healthcare providers when they see certification
initials after my name," Justin added. "Families have noted them on my badge,
and ask what the initials mean. Of course, I seize the opportunity to tell
Protecting the Public
Certification represents competence to many
of those queried. They believe that CCRN certification represents both the
knowledge and the skill needed to care for today's challenging patients. As a
director on the AACN Certification Corporation board, I have learned that
certification is about protecting the public. Isn't it reasonable that, if your
plumber is certified, the nurse in charge of your other "pipes" should be, too?
As healthcare has become more complex, it has become increasingly vital to
assure the public that health professionals are competent.
Maintaining an exam that truly reflects our
ever-changing practice is not easy. Nevertheless, to meet NCCA standards, the
AACN Certification Corporation is committed to that process. In a 2001 survey of
more than 1,200 AACN members, 92% of the nurse managers who responded said they
encouraged CCRN certification. This is despite the fact that only 6% of the work
environments at the time required certification. Seventy-nine percent of these
nurses perceive the certification process to be of high quality. In a survey of
550 nonmembers, 46% expressed an interest in our certification! We believe that
gradually the value of something already recognized by both AACN members and
nonmembers will also be evident to the public, healthcare administrators, the
media and to health policy makers.
The AACN Certification Corporation mission
is to advance standards of excellence in caring for acute and critically ill
patients. We will continue to pursue the protection of the public and promote
professional practice excellence through our certification programs. It's the
right thing to do for the protection of your patient.
Survey Indicates That Certification
The Advance for Nurses 2002 Salary Survey
indicated that certification leads to higher pay, especially in areas like
Delaware, North Carolina and South Carolina.
According to the results, certified nurses
earned an average of $25.93 per hour, compared to the $22.95 per hour average
salary earned by nurses who were not certified.
The survey was conducted between July and
October 2002, but the results were based on a simple poll, not a scientific,
Nominations Invited for AACN
Certification Corporation Board
Deadline Is June 13
AACN Certification Corporation is seeking
nominations of individuals to serve on the Board of Directors for terms that
begin July 1, 2004. Invited are nominations for the offices of chair-elect and
Nominations must be received or postmarked
by June 13, 2003. See page 3 of this issue of AACN News for additional
information, as well as to obtain a nomination form that can be completed and
faxed or mailed to AACN. Nomination forms can also be obtained by calling (800)
899-2226 or online.
For more information about the Call for
Nominations, contact Tracey Kane at (800) 394-5995, ext. 415.
Is Your Practice Synergistic?
Do you apply the AACN Synergy Model for
Patient Care 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,