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Vol. 23, No. 4, APRIL 2006

Reaching Out to CCRNs

The Bitterroot Chapter of AACN held its first Certification Celebration
last year in Missoula, Mont. The event, which celebrated critical care
nurses throughout western Montana who recognize the value of CCRN
certification, included a complimentary dinner and guest speaker.
Although Montana is a large state geographically, only two AACN
chapters are active in the state. The Bitterroot Chapter reached out
to nurses across a 200-mile radius and invited them to join the
Missoula-area nurses for a night of celebrating certification. The
event was organized by Tracy Love, who was chapter president at
that time, and Chris Cole, Kayla Somerfeld, Nicole Marks and Amy
Hanneman, all members of the Bitterroot Chapter. Pictured above
are the certified nurses who attended the event.

ACNP Certification Exam Moves to Item Writing Phase

The acute care nurse practitioner exam is currently being developed and is in the item writing phase. The exam Test Plan, Detailed Content Outline, Validated ACNP Synergy Competencies and FAQ Sheet are available at www.certcorp.org> What’s New.

The ACNP certification exam with performance statistics will need to be completed before requesting approval from each state. AACN Certification Corporation does not anticipate difficulty with state approval of the exam, though it is a state-by-state process. Approval updates will be posted on the Web site (www.certcorp.org).

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing has approved the CCNS certification exam as a prerequisite to advanced practice nursing licensure. The approval brings to 23 the total number of states that have recognized the exam as meeting the criteria for advanced practice nursing designation or licensure. The other states are California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Arizona, New Mexico and Virginia are among the states that accept the CCNS exam, but not through a formal approval process.

Celebrating 30 Years of Certification

During 2006, AACN Certification Corporation is recognizing nurses who have reached a major milestone—maintaining their CCRN certification for 30 consecutive years. Asked what certification means to them, these nurses were quick to reply. Here are some of their thoughts:

Certification means:
• Validation of specialized critical care nursing knowledge and experience
—Melinda Smyth, RN, MSN, CCRN, CNA
Pompano Beach, Fla.

• Being part of a special group of professionals who care enough to pursue the certification; what I have learned has made me a better caregiver for my patients.
—Linda Doughty, RN, BS, CCRN
Deerfield, Fla.

• Recognition of competence
—Patricia Lounsbury, RN, BC, BSN, MEd, CCRN, FAACVPR
Iowa City, Iowa

• Meeting national standards
—Helen Silvey, RN, CCRN-CMC, PCCN
Inman, S.C.

• Recognition of knowledge in the field of critical care
—Teresa Quigley, RN, BSN, MA, CCRN
Reseda, Calif.

• Dramatically improves knowledge base and clinical practice. I have no data on this, just comments from the thousands of nurses I have had in the 400 CCRN review courses I have taught since 1976.
—Maureen Harvey, RN, MPH, CCRN, FCCM
Glenbrook, Nev.

• Motivation to keep up with critical care education
—Ann Devin, RN, CCRN
Citrus Heights, Calif.

July 1 Deadline to Make Up Clinical Hours for CCNS Exam Eligibility

After July 1, 2006, CCNS candidates must have had 500 clock hours of supervised clinical practice as part of their CNS program; there will be no exceptions. On that date, the window of time to make up any hours through transcripted clinical practice will be closed.

For the Record

James D. Barringer Jr., RN, AD, AAS, CCRN, and James D. Barringer III, RN, ADN, CCRN, both passed the CCRN exam in 2005, and Jane Brinton Jacobs, RN, BS, BSN, PCCN, passed the PCCN exam in 2005. Their names were omitted from the lists of nurses who had obtained certification through AACN Certification Corporation during 2005.

Renewal by Synergy CERPs Coming in January 2007

Renewal by Synergy CERPs (continuing education recognition points) is a new program that integrates the AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care. As a result, CERP categories, definitions and number of CERPs required per category will change. The total number of required CERPs per renewal period will remain at 100, and the actual CERPs recognized are mostly the same.

The current Renewal by CERPs program was established prior to the development of the AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care. Although the Synergy Model has been the framework for AACN Certification Corporation exams since 1997, the model has not yet been integrated into the Renewal by CERPs program. This integration will provide more equitable emphasis on clinical judgment between certification and recertification programs.

Many CCRNs were certified before the development of the Synergy Model as the organizing framework for AACN certification. It makes sense for all certificants to be familiar with the Synergy Model and how it applies to their practice. The intention in switching to renewal by the Synergy Model is to offer more meaningful recertification requirements, to better prepare nurses for the future, and to provide consistency between certification and recertification programs.

Following are answers to questions regarding the new Renewal by CERPs

When will the new Synergy CERPs requirements become effective?
The new CERPs program will go into effect in January 2007, with a three-year implementation phase. Current certificants may opt to renew using either the current CERPs program or the new Synergy CERPs program until January 2010. After that date, all certificants—new and renewing—will be required to use the Renewal by Synergy CERPs, unless they are renewing by exam.

What is changing?
The CERP categories, definitions and percentage weight will change. The new CERP categories (A, B and C) will reflect the Synergy Model nurse competencies grouped by similarity. CERPs will be required in all three categories.

What are the new CERP categories and components?
Category A = Clinical Judgment, Clinical Inquiry
Category B = Advocacy/Moral Agency, Caring Practices, Response to Diversity, Facilitation of Learning
Category C = Collaboration, Systems Thinking

What are the new percentage weights for each required category?
60% required for Category A
10% required for Category B
10% required for Category C
20% choice

What recertification programs will be affected by the change?
Primarily, CCRN and PCCN certificants will be affected. The requirements for CCNS, CMC and CSC will not change, but some of the language will be updated to integrate the Synergy Model.

Given that 20 percent of Renewal by Synergy CERPs (20 CERPs) is left to personal choice, what are the minimum and maximum CERP allotments per category?
What is not changing?

CERP Category Minimum CERPs Maximum CERPs
Category A 60 80
Category B 10 30
Category C 10 30

Renewal by Synergy CERPs will still be based on the CERP program, which will include ongoing learning and other activities. A total of 100 CERPs is still required for a three-year renewal period. Certificants will continue to sign honor statements at renewal time, and a percentage of renewal applicants will be audited to assure compliance with the continuing competency requirements.

Where can we learn more about Renewal by Synergy CERPs?
During the remainder of 2006, there will be monthly updates in AACN News, including Q&As and CERP examples. In addition, the AACN Certification Corporation Web site will feature detailed information. By August 2006, the online Renewal Handbook will be updated to reflect the changes. A copy of the revised Renewal Handbook will be mailed to certificants four months prior to their renewal dates.

If you are attending the NTI in Anaheim, Calif., in May, be sure to stop by the Certification Oasis to learn more about Renewal by Synergy CERPs. Informal information sessions will also be scheduled in the Demo Room adjacent to the Resource Center. If you have additional questions, e-mail certcorp@aacn.org or call (800) 899-2226.

Comparison of Current and New Requirements

Certification Current Requirement
per Renewal Period
New Requirement
per Renewal Period
CCRN/PCCN 100 Total
25 Category A
75 Choice (Category A or O)
100 Total
60 Category A
10 Category B
10 Category C
20 Choice (A, B or C)
CMC/CSC 25 Total
25 Category A
no change
25 Category A
(clinical judgment only)
CCNS 60 Total
15 Category A

45 Optional within Category A
no change
15 Category A
clinical judgment only)
45 Optional within
Category A
(clinical judgment
and clinical inquiry)

Synergy CERPs Pop Quiz

1. When I renew my CCRN in January 2007, I will be required to use the new Renewal by Synergy CERPs program.
q True q False

2. The number of CERPs required in a three-year period is increasing.
q True q False

3. Which of the following are acceptable distributions of CERPs by Category in the new Renewal by Synergy CERPs program (i.e., Category A/B/C):
a. 100/0/0 c. 60/40/0
b. 60/30/10 d. 80/5/15

4. An example of a Category B topic is:
a. hemodynamic monitoring c. healthy work environments
b. palliative care d. leadership development

5. An example of a Category C topic is:
a. healthy work environments c. infection control
b. ethical issues in critical care d. research design

Answers: 1. False. 2. False. 3. b. 4. b. 5. a.
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