AACN News—July 2004—Certification

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Vol. 21, No. 6, JUNE 2004

Activities Were Special
Certified Nurses Came Together at the NTI

NTI was an exciting time for AACN Certification Corporation!

Meeting at the Oasis
Approximately 2,000 certified nurses and nurses interested in learning more about certification visited the Certification Oasis Lounge at the NTI. AACN Certification Corporation appreciates the cosponsorship of Clarian Health Partners to help provide a comfortable retreat for certificants. Several informal informational sessions about certification were scheduled in the Certification Oasis. One focused on the new CCRN test blueprint; one on the new PCCN exam; and one on the planned subspecialty certification exams in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery.

AACN Certification Corporation board members and representatives of Clarian Health Partners helped to staff the Certification Oasis Lounge.

Exams Draw 650
Approximately 650 examinees sat for the paper-and-pencil certification exams administered during the NTI. Among them were almost 400 who sat for the first administration of the PCCN exam.

To mark the launching of the new exam, PCCN pens were distributed at the NTI. In addition, PCCN examinees who completed a postadministration survey wore buttons declaring that they had taken the first PCCN exam at NTI 2004, in Orlando, Fla. The survey will provide insight into the study materials used by the examinees and study resources the progressive care audience wants, as well as ideas about desired recognition products. Highlights of the survey results will appear in a future issue of AACN News.

Certification Luncheon
The Certification Luncheon drew approximately 1,500 CCRN-, CCNS- and ACNP-certified participants. A talk by Janet M. Bingle, RN, MS, chief nursing officer for the Community Health Network and vice president of Clinical Standards, Education and Research with the Community Hospitals of Indianapolis, was well-received.

ICU Manager Charlotte Farris is joined by
Mike Williford at the CCRN Wall of Honor,
a special recognition for certified ICU nurses
at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas,
Texas. Williford was the Dallas County Chapter
Critical Care Nurse of the Year for 2003.

Wall of Honor Celebrates CCRN Certification
Program Recognizes Unit’s Commitment to Excellence

As ICU manager at Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, Charlotte Farris, RN, BSN, is promoting certification in a big way! She has created a Wall of Honor to recognize certified nurses in her unit.

The CCRN Wall of Honor was started in August 2003, when eight unit nurses were certified. As of April 2004, 13 of the 52 core staff members had achieved CCRN certification. The goal is for the unit to have the most CCRN-certified nurses of all the ICUs at Baylor. At least five more nurses plan to achieve certification by the end of the year.

Farris consulted a graphic designer who helped her implement her idea for certification recognition. The graphic designer came to the unit, measured the space available, suggested the frame color to blend with the wood on the plaques and created a layout that allowed for growth.

“The honor wall will have more plaques on display!” Farris proclaimed. “This is so exciting to watch my nurses encourage each other to pursue the rigorous testing requirements and continuing education, striving to create a culture of exceptional care in our cardiac surgery, thoracic, vascular, heart and lung transplant ICU.”
Two other ICU units at Baylor are adopting the idea of creating a wall of honor. The recognition symbolizes the commitment to excellence and public protection through nursing certification.

Find Out More About Progressive Care Certification

Q: What is Progressive Care?
A: Progressive care is the term AACN uses to collectively describe areas that are also referred to as intermediate care, direct observation, step-down, telemetry or transitional care units, as well as to define a specific level of patient care. AACN recognizes progressive care as part of the continuum of critical care.

Q: Who’s Eligible?
A: Nurses who have unrestricted licensure as RNs in the United States or any of its territories and have 1,750 hours in direct bedside care of the acutely ill patient during the previous two years, with 875 of those hours accrued in the most recent year preceding application, are eligible. Nurse managers, educators, CNSs or preceptors may apply the hours they spent supervising nursing students or nurses at the bedside.

Q: What Can I Expect With the Exam?
A: The exam will contain 125 items. Of these, 100 will be scored. The other 25 will not be scored, but will be used to gather statistical data on item performance for future exams. The items will be based on the AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care, with 80% of the exam focusing on the component of clinical judgment and 20% focusing on the component of professional caring and ethical practice.

Note: The new PCCN exam is scheduled to be available for computer-based testing by the end of August. PCCN Exam Handbooks and applications are available online.

Additional information is available online.

New PCCN Recognition Items Online

Congratulations to the newly certified PCCNs. You are pioneers in progressive care nursing certification!

Be sure to visit the AACN online bookstore for order information about new PCCN recognition products. The first phase of PCCN product offerings includes lapel pins, lanyards, retractable badge holders, tote bags and certificate plaques. These logo products also make nice gifts for newly certified PCCNs from peers, mentors, managers or family members.

To order, visit the bookstore.

Online CCRN Practice Exam on Hold

The online adult CCRN practice exam is currently under revision. The revised Self-Assessment Exam, which is based on the new adult CCRN test plan, will be available by October 2004.

Prevost Maps Accomplishments for Luncheon Attendees
Busy Year Included Study of Practice, Launch of PCCN Program

Editor’s note: In welcoming attendees to the annual Certification Luncheon during the NTI, 2003-04 AACN Certification Corporation Chair Suzanne Prevost, RN, PhD, provided an overview of accomplishments in the past year and a preview of plans for the coming year. Following are excerpts from her report.

It’s been a busy year. We’ve done a great many things to ensure that our Strategic Plan is reflective of the needs of nurses and relevant to today’s workplace environment.

Achieving these goals requires a coordinated effort by AACN Certification Corporation and AACN staff, volunteers and certificants. This year’s achievements are the product of the hard work and commitment of everyone in this room. By sharing what we know about the distinction and advantages with which certification provides us, our hospitals and our patients, we move closer to making our vision a reality.

I would like to share just a few of our many accomplishments with you.

We have just launched the PCCN exam, the only certification exam designed specifically for progressive care nurses, with the first pencil-and-paper administration taking place here at NTI. Although we hoped to have about 50 nurses take the first exam, I am happy to announce that 400 nurses took the step to become certified in progressive care nursing.

Study of Practice
We have completed our landmark study of practice. The results of our survey of more than 4,500 nurses in critical care, including a special sampling of entry level, advanced practice, and progressive care, will now serve to guide the content of our existing and future exams to ensure that they continue to be reflective of practice.
Job Analyses

We are in the process of conducting job analysis surveys for medical cardiology and cardiovascular surgery nurses. These will provide the basis of our upcoming subspecialty certification examinations.

CCRN Renewal
Our streamlined CCRN renewal process has resulted in an increased percentage of recertifications, as well as more than 5,000 CCRNs renewing their certification online.

Advanced Practice Criteria
Our CCNS program has met the National Council of State Boards of Nurses’ criteria for advanced practice certification. Our change in eligibility standards for the CCNS will meet the highest common denominator of state licensure requirements as we move forward for approval in more states.

Looking Ahead
These are very important accomplishments. With your help as ambassadors for the importance of certification, I have no doubt that our results next year will be even better. Here’s some of what we have planned for the year ahead:

Subspecialty Exams
In early 2005, we will launch our exams for medical cardiology subspecialty certification and for cardiovascular surgery subspecialty certification. These exams are being developed in response to the continuing trend of subspecialization among critical care nurses and their desire to validate their specialized skills with certification.

Value of Certification
We will continue to focus on strategies to communicate the value of certification, especially to employers who continue to be among our most important stakeholders. We will support research that investigates the relationships between certification and positive outcomes.

Strengthening Exams
We will also continue to strengthen our existing exams and develop new ones to meet the growing demand for further specialization. Over the next three years, we will:
• Revise the CCNS exam based on the findings from our recent study of practice.
• Examine the feasibility of an advance practice nurse practitioner exam based on our study of practice.
• Explore opportunities for an entry-level certification exam.
• Explore the market for additional subspecialty certifications.

Luncheon Speaker Emphasizes a Higher Standard of Care

Certified critical care nurses were honored at the NTI for their dedication and commitment to a higher standard of care in nursing at the NTI certification luncheon.
Suzanne Prevost, RN, PhD, chair of the AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors, commended newly certified nurses, practicing nurses and veterans who have continued their certification since the inception of the program.

“Congratulations to all of you,” she said. “Thank you for your commitment to continued education. We are proud of you and grateful for your excellent service.”

Promoting Certification
Janet M. Bingle, RN, MS, chief nursing officer for the Community Health Network and vice president of Clinical Standards, Education and Research with the Community Hospitals of Indianapolis, presented the keynote address. She stressed the importance of mentoring young nurses who strive to achieve excellence in practice, while encouraging them to receive their certification.

“With the devastating nursing shortage that we will be faced with in the next 15 years, it is of utmost importance that we retain qualified nurses,” Bingle said.

By 2020, 1 million fewer registered nurses will be practicing in the United States, she noted.

“The shortage situation will be critical, so it is that much more important to demand highly experienced qualified nurses to make a difference in patients’ lives and help to navigate their life course,” Bingle said.

Leading at the Top
Bingle noted traits that will set highly trained qualified nurses apart from other healthcare workers stem from a unique blend of basic knowledge, experience and intuition.

“Nurses are responsible for making healthcare safe and effective in their institution,” she said. “They are not manual laborers but complex, experienced thinkers who have developed a set of skills to reach a gut decision and rescue patients early on in the disease process.

“Your colleagues, institution and patients are depending on you to lead at the top.”

By becoming certified, nurses can assure others that they are credible practitioners who can be depended upon, she said.

Bingle’s presentation was cosponsored by Hill-Rom and Tenet. All the participants also received coffee mugs sponsored by Atrium.
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