AACN News—March 2005—Certification

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Vol. 22, No. 3, MARCH 2005


CCRN or PCCN—Which Exam Is for You?

Is my practice considered critical care or progressive care? I’m not sure if I should take the CCRN or PCCN certification exam?

Some progressive care and critical care knowledge skills and abilities do overlap. Although nurses who practice in telemetry, step-down and observation units are considered to be progressive care nurses, the distinction is more about the stability and criticality of the patient than the geographical location in which they practice.

The definition is based on patient needs and required interventions. Progressive care is at the less acute end of the critical care continuum, where patients are moderately stable and less complex, require moderate resources and require intermittent nursing vigilance. Or, they may be stable with a high potential for becoming unstable and may require increased intensity of care and vigilance.

The overlap between progressive and critical care also exists in the exam blueprints.

To help you decide, review the exam blueprints in the CCRN and PCCN exam handbooks. Then, ask yourself:

• Which more closely reflects my practice?
• How stable are my patients?
• What kinds of resources are required for care?
• Do I perform hemodynamic monitoring or ventilator management? (These are on the CCRN Exam Blueprint, but not the PCCN Exam Blueprint.)
• Does my hospital consider my unit to be a critical care unit?

PCCN and CCRN are parallel and comparable credentials. They simply have different areas of patient focus, depending on your nursing practice and where on the continuum your patients’ needs and required interventions fall.

So, are you a progressive care nurse? If you work in telemetry, on an observation unit, on a step-down unit, in a postanesthesia care unit, in cardiac catheterization or in stress testing, you are likely a progressive care nurse.

If you work in any of these areas and are not currently certified, consider a career progression with specialty certification as a PCCN first, then a subspecialty certification in cardiac medicine and become a PCCN-CMC.

Each of AACN Certification Corporation’s specialty certifications and new subspecialty certifications are based on national job analyses and developed according to national credentialing standards. Because not all certifications from other organizations are developed according to national credentialing standards, you will want to be a wise consumer in your selection of a certification to pursue.

If you have additional questions about which certification exam to take, call AACN Certification Corporation at (800) 899-2226.

Store Your CERPs and CE Credits

A new CERP Keeper organizer is now available. Targeted to all certificants, this tri-fold binder product helps organize and store the CERP and CE documentation needed for certification renewal.

Choose either the CERP Keeper with CCRN logo (while supplies last) or the new CERP Keeper with AACN Certification Corporation logo. Here’s what’s inside:

• Descriptions of various forms and detailed information about how to use the CERP Keeper
• Renewal FAQs for CCRN, CCNS, PCCN, CMC and CSC certification
• A certification tracking sheet
• Sample renewal audit checklists
• Colored-tab dividers with pockets, plus two-sided pocket pages to store documents or certificates and organize prior certification period documentation
• Preprinted and blank labels to customize the CERP Keeper

To order online, visit www.aacn.org.

Take the Paper-and-Pencil Version of Certification Exams at the NTI

Would you like to take a certification exam in the paper-and-pencil instead of computer-based format?

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 on Monday, May 9, at NTI 2005 in New Orleans, La.

The deadline to apply is March 29, 2005. Exam candidates are not required to attend NTI. However, if registering for both, separate registration and payment must be submitted. Exam applications are available online at www.certcorp.org.

National Accreditation Renewed for CCRN and CCNS Programs

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies has notified AACN Certification Corporation that accreditations of the CCRN and CCNS programs have been renewed for five years, through Aug. 31, 2009. NCCA is the accreditation body of the National Organization of Competency Assurance.

Award Honors Support for the Value of Certification

Editor’s note: Part of the AACN Circle of Excellence recognition program for chapters, the CCRN Certification Drive Award recognizes chapters that demonstrate the value of CCRN certification by increasing the number of CCRNs in their chapters during the year. Following are excerpts from the exemplary submitted in connection with this award for 2004.

Atlanta Area Chapter
Chartered 33 years ago, the Atlanta Area Chapter is a vital chapter and resource for the critical care nurses of the metropolitan Atlanta area. The chapter holds certification as an extremely valued aspect of a critical care nurse’s practice. We offer annual CCRN reviews, an annual Certification Luncheon with a national speaker as a reward for the certified nurses, free local membership to national members who have achieved their first certification, and educational tracks aimed at preparation for the CCRN exam.

In addition, we have awarded plaques to hospitals applauding their certified nurses for their commitment to excellence. These plaques can have names continually added to them as more of their nurses become certified.
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