AACN News—January 2005—Certification

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Vol. 22, No. 1, JANUARY 2005

Subspecialty Exams Launching Jan. 18
Cardiac Medicine and Cardiac Surgery Certifications

AACN Certification Corporation is launching its new nursing subspecialty exams for cardiac medicine certification (CMC) and cardiac surgery certification (CSC) this month. Computer-based testing begins Jan. 18.

The first 13 candidates to sit for each exam in four designated regions will receive $50 gift certificates to the AACN Bookstore. In addition, all candidates who take one of the exams by Feb. 28 will be entered into a drawing for one of eight free registrations to AACN’s 2005 National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition May 7 through 12 in New Orleans, La.

Additional information about these new subspecialty exams is available in the “What’s New” area of the AACN Certification Corporation Web site.

In the Circle
Award Emphasizes the Value of Certification

Editor’s note: The AACN Value of Certification Award, part of the Circle of Excellence recognition program, is sponsored by AACN Certification Corporation to recognize contributions that support and foster the advancement of certified nursing practice in critical care. Following are the exemplars submitted in connection with this award for 2004:

Aultman Heart Center
Canton, Ohio
Aultman Hospital
In 2002, the leadership of Aultman Heart Center recognized deficiencies in its staff education program. During redevelopment, initiatives were set in motion not only to improve continuing education, but also to encourage certification. As a result, an increase in certified nurses from six to 30 was realized in the first year.

Initiatives include a five-level education program. Level I, designed for the new employee, includes a critical care course, a preceptorship, a mentoring program and seven hours of additional core cardiovascular curriculum. Levels II and III each contain 14 hours of core cardiovascular and critical care curriculum. Level IV is a 32-hour preparation course for cardiovascular and critical care certification. Level V consists of physician-led “ask the expert” sessions and patient-care grand rounds. Staff advances one level annually.

Certification is also supported in other ways. The Heart Center assumes the cost of certification, and unit-based “clinical enhancement” programs provide points for certification toward a biannual bonus. Certified staff function as instructors for Levels l through lV, acknowledging them as clinical experts. Only certified staff are invited to the Level V sessions, which are led by cardiologists and critical care physicians. Certified staff are given the first opportunity to attend outside education.

A new level of enthusiasm for clinical knowledge is evident in bedside practice and acknowledged by physicians. Clinical practice changes have occurred as a result of certification-related education. Certified nurses act as teachers and coaches on an individual basis, applying critical thinking, clinical knowledge and application of standards to real patients.

Promoting certification has many benefits, including recruitment, recommitment, recognition and retention. Focusing on preparing nurses for certification and acknowledging and rewarding the attainment of certification has made an impact at Aultman Heart Center on our nurses, our physicians and, most importantly, on our patients and their families.

Kerry Charlie Forbes, RN, BSN, CCRN
Indianapolis, Ind.
Clarian Health Partners
Aspect Medical Systems
CCRN is much more than certification. It is a sense of pride, a way of professional practice and a feeling of love for what you do that shows through in your daily nursing practice.

I have had the wonderful opportunity this year to watch 35 nurses transform into high-speed, CCRN-certified nurses. It has easily been the highlight of my career. Each of the nurses started out very skilled and knowledgeable. Yet, they all felt that obtaining CCRN certification was beyond their reach. It was clear from day one that each of them had what it took to become certified. They were hard workers; they were exceptionally bright; and they all had immense compassion and hearts of gold.

My job was to put together a program to help these nurses reach their potential. I am blessed to be supported in a work environment where the leadership team has the attitude of, “We can’t afford not to.” This means we cannot afford to lose even one good nurse, we cannot afford to have nurses that are not empowered and we cannot afford patient safety to be anything but our number one goal.

I was supported by the team in designing a certification support program and creatively finding a way to pay for it. The team developed a foundation fund, and I wrote applications for three education grants totaling $7,000. The funds have covered the costs of exam fees and AACN memberships for the CCRN candidates.

Not all of my nurses have passed the CCRN exam on the first try, but they all know the answer to this question: What do you call a nurse who took the test four times before passing? CCRN certified.

If at First ...

By Kim Blount, RN, MSN, CCRN
Cardiovascular Clinical Specialist
Carolinas Medical Center

Failure. For adult learners, this word brings to the surface deep emotions of fear and self-doubt.

According to Malcolm Knowles, there is no richer method to learn than by experience. Sometimes by failing or not achieving our desired goal, we learn.

That was my experience with the CCRN examination. I took this test at a time in my life when I was deciding “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” I knew I wanted more out of my nursing career. However, I was having trouble deciding what road to take. Maybe I could earn an advanced degree in anesthesia or learn to be a clinical nurse specialist. I also knew that certification was a standard that colleges valued for professional development and entry into these advanced programs. So, for my personal interest and to help my advanced degree application, I filled out the CCRN eligibility criteria and sent it on its way to AACN Certification Corporation.

After placing the envelope containing an attestation of my critical care nursing career into the mail slot, I felt relief. Now I was motivated to succeed. I started preparing for the exam by obtaining the blueprint, attending a weeklong review course and studying until my eyes crossed.

When test day arrived, I was nervous because I didn’t want to fail. The test was difficult. I looked at some of the answers to the questions and asked myself, “Who would do that?” I second-guessed everything, including my experience.

Several weeks later, the letter arrived with the news that I had not passed the CCRN exam. I was devastated. The preparation and worry I had experienced was all for nothing. But being a competitor, I could not take this failure as defeat. Now, I was more motivated than ever to succeed, and I decided to retake the test.

This time everything was different. I was more relaxed and determined. I knew I had a 50-50 chance of passing. The only thing I could lose would be the test fee. So I packed my books and spent the week before the test at the beach enjoying myself and relaxing. Guess what? This time I passed the test! Success!

My advice is never give up on what you want to achieve and enjoy yourself while doing it! Believe!

Use the Power of Positive Thinking!

If you are preparing to sit for one of AACN Certification Corporation’s certification exams, let AACN President Kathy McCauley, RN, PhD, BC, FAAN, and AACN Certification Corporation Chair Jan Foster, RN, MSN, PhD, CCRN, know. They will send positive thoughts your way. E-mail your exam date to Kathy.McCauley@aacn.org or Jan.Foster@aacn.org.

Remember, there are only 14 months left to take advantage of the opportunity to augment clinical hours through a transcripted
preceptorship and obtain 500 clinical hours required to be eligible for the CCNS exam.

Persistence Pays for CCNS Who Tackled Third-Party Reimbursement Issue

Editor’s note: Because of her systems thinking and problem-solving abilities, Melissa Thorson, RN, MS, CCNS, CCRN, was able to forge a path for other clinical nurse specialists seeking third-party reimbursement in Minnesota. Because of her persistence in not accepting “no” for an answer, Thorson not only carved a path for other CNSs in her state, but also has been successful in expanding services, increasing access to care and optimizing patient outcomes. Following is her account of how she overcame this major challenge.

By Melissa Thorson

I graduated from an Adult Health CNS program in May 2003 and was certified as a CCNS in December 2003. I accepted a position as a clinical nurse specialist for trauma services at a Level 1 trauma facility in Minnesota.

The position was modeled on chapter 5 in Anna Gawlinski’s and L. Kern’s book titled the Clinical Nurse Specialist Role in Critical Care. This chapter, authored by Diane Dressler, RN, MSN, CCRN, FAHA, is titled “Critical Care CNS in Joint Practice With Physicians.” Fifty percent of my time is spent making rounds with trauma surgeons and neurosurgeons of trauma patients, from the critical care phase though inpatient rehabilitation. I also work with a group of four trauma and orthopedic nurse clinicians. Our role is to coordinate care for the trauma patient, including advancing medical and nursing plans of care, and assisting with rehabilitation initiation, psychosocial support, discharge planning and interdisciplinary communication. The rest of my time is spent as research coordinator for trauma studies, in staff support, in protocol development, in education, on hospital committees, and in performance improvement activities.

In March 2004, I obtained a DEA number for prescribing scheduled medications and drafted written prescribing and treatment contacts with a group of sponsoring trauma surgeons and neurosurgeons. In July of 2004, I applied for the third-party provider numbers and a Medicare number from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is necessary for third- party reimbursement for services and to order necessary items for patient care, such as durable medical equipment.

In September 2004, Medicaid denied me a provider number on the basis of inappropriate certification. To obtain a provider number, certification had to be through the American Nurses Credentialing Center as the only national certifying body recognized by Medicare’s Code of Federal Regulations.

In October 2004, I enlisted help from other CNSs via a listserv and leadership within my own practice. Unfortunately, no one had encountered this problem. Finally, with the help of AACN Certification Corporation Director Carol Hartigan, RN, MA, I was able to navigate current regulations and contact the appropriate people at the CMS to achieve a favorable outcome. I appealed the previous decision, identifying AACN Certification Corporation as an appropriate national certifying body. A hearing was requested.

On Nov. 1, while still waiting for the hearing to be scheduled, I received a phone call and letter from the CMS, informing me that I will receive a provider number, after all. An error had occurred in the updating of the Code of Federal Regulations in Minnesota. Once the state realized the error and the fact that CCNS certification is recognized as an advanced certification in Minnesota, it was able to issue a provider number.

After a long battle, and many e-mails and phone calls, we had victory!

Certification Celebration Now a Dinner Event at NTI

The annual celebration for certified nurses during the NTI is being enhanced this year with an evening gala that replaces the traditional lunchtime schedule.

This year, AACN Certification Corporation will host a celebratory banquet for CCRN-, CCNS-, ACNP-, PCCN- and CMC- and CSC-certified nurses, as well as CCRN Alumni. Comedian Taylor Mason will serve as master of ceremony.

The traditional CE speaker will be replaced with a special CE Passport for all attendees, allowing participants to earn up to 3 Category A CE credits online at their convenience (good through June 30, 2005) and leaving more event time for recognition, prize drawings and fun!

This dinner event is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11. Tickets may be purchased for $35 with NTI registration.

For more information about the NTI or to register, call (800) 899-2226 or visit the AACN Web site or the Certification Corporation Web site.

Paper-and-Pencil Versions of Certification Exams Available Twice This Spring

Would you like to take a certification exam in the paper-and-pencil instead of computer-based format? You have two opportunities to do so this year.

At the NTI
All certification exams administered by AACN Certification Corporation—CCRN adult, pediatric and neonatal; CCNS adult, pediatric and neonatal for clinical nurse specialists; PCCN for progressive care nurses; and new cardiac medical (CMC) and cardiac surgery (CSC)—are being offered in the paper-and-pencil format at NTI 2005 in New Orleans, La. The exams are scheduled for Monday, May 9. The deadline to apply is March 29.

At Trends
In addition, all the exams but the CCNS exam are being offered on Wednesday, April 6, in conjunction with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter’s Spring Trends conference in Philadelphia, Pa. The deadline to apply is Feb. 22.

Exam applications are available in the “What’s New” area of the AACN Certification Corporation Web site or by calling (800) 899-2226

Certification a Culture at Grant Medical Center

At Grant Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, critical care nurses are
not only encouraged to obtain their CCRN certification, but also
rewarded for obtaining and maintaining it by receiving a pay differential.
It also celebrates its CCRNs with a CCRN Recognition Dinner. Those
honored included (from left) Carlita Johnson, Kelly Clark, Shirlien Metersky,
Jolie Lawrence, Debbie Walsh, Lianne Dickerson, Aimee Fahey, Louis Tejeda,
Melanie Shipley, Kathleen Marable, Christine Lanthorn, Kahren Bossart,
Cathy Hulse and Jaqi Walli. Other CCRNs who are not pictured are Tami Hand,
Mark Kantola, Melinda Doup, Kim Dixon, Deb Kittel, Kim Maxwell, Peggy Brewer,
Christine Rubeck, Cindy Wood, Maureen Curry, Sharon Doolin, Nel Carlson,
Toni Beauford and Angel Euton.
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