AACN News—June 2007—Certification

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Vol. 24, No. 6, JUNE 2007


Abington Memorial Hospital's Road to Certification


Critical Care/Trauma Clinical Educator Mary Gallagher and Cathy Spahr, SICU and ICU nurse manager, join newly certified CCRNs at Abington Memorial Hospital. Pictured (from left) are Diane Gilson, George Lynch, Gallagher, Nicole Seward, Steve Trobovic, Katie Yansick, Stacey Ridgway and Spahr.

Nurses at Abington Memorial Hospital (AMH) in Abington, Pa. started their educational journey, “The Road to Certification,” in June 2006 when they contacted AACN about the group discount program. They researched the AACN Web site and asked Terry Reilly, RN, MSN, CCRN, nurse director for critical care services, and Barbara Wadsworth, RN, MSN, MBA, CNAA, chief nursing officer and vice president for patient services, for their support. The hospital agreed to pay the examination fee for every nurse, and the critical care team formulated an aggressive preparation plan.

Interested staff members had one month to decide if they would join the group and commit to this educational process. Cathy Spahr, RN, BSN, MBA, CCRN, nurse manager of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Mary Gallagher, RN, MSN, CCRN, Critical Care/Trauma clinical educator, organized a three-day CCRN Review Course, which was taught by experienced AMH certified critical care nurses. The weekly classes were a bonding experience for the critical care nurses who participated. Having a large group of people working toward the same goal created enthusiasm and positive energy.

Feedback from staff after they had taken the CCRN exam was positive. The nurses were happy they took the course and believed it improved their clinical practice. As a result of their journey, there are now 28 newly certified CCRNs at AMH; 26 additional CCRN exam candidates, along with 16 PCCN exam candidates, plan to take the certification examination in the spring.

Nancy Cook, RN, BSN, clinical educator for the CV unit (CVU) and heart failure unit (HFU) organized a three-day PCCN review course using the PCCN test plan on AACN’s Web site. Nurses from the Progressive Care Unit are also taking the PCCN exam along with staff from the CVU and HFU in the spring.

Congratulations to Abington Memorial Hospital nurses for their ongoing efforts to promote certification. If you want to know more about creating a culture of certification at your hospital, visit AACN Certification Corporation’s Web site at www.certcorp.org > Value of Certification.

Thanks to Mary Gallagher and Cathy Spahr for sharing how Abington Memorial Hospital is creating a culture of certification.

ACNPC Q&A


Q Do faculty hours spent in clinical supervision of ACNP students count as practice hours toward ACNPC renewal?

A Yes, faculty hours spent supervising ACNP students in clinical practice may be included in the total (also count toward) ACNPC renewal eligibility practice hours. The statement “Activities regularly completed as the focus of your role may not be counted” refers to CE activities, not clinical hours.

CMC and CSC Exams Added to Those Approved for VA Reimbursement

Veterans and other eligible persons who pass the CCRN, PCCN, CCNS, CMC or CSC exam are now eligible to receive reimbursement for the total cost of their exam fee by submitting an Application for Licensing and Certification Testing Fee Reimbursement, along with a copy of their test results and a receipt of exam fee payment, to the Department of Veterans Affairs, P.O. Box 8888, Muskogee, OK 74402-8888. For more details, visit www.certcorp.org.

AACN Certification Corporation Value of Certification Award

Editor’s note: Sponsored by AACN Certification Corporation, this award recognizes contributions that support and foster the advancement of certified nursing practice in critical care. Following are excerpts from exemplars submitted in connection with this award for 2006:

Critical Care Team
Portland, Ore.
Providence St. Vincent Hospital & Medical Center
The value of certification is a focal point of our Critical Care Department. Three years ago, two staff nurses coordinated their efforts with our chapter to bring a CCRN review course to our facility. Initially, 14 staff nurses attended the preparatory course, all of whom joined our local chapter, took the CCRN exam and became certified. Since then we have increased the number of certified nurses from 6% to 33% and also have four CCRN ambassadors who help guide and mentor nurses through the certification process. The initial reward that certified nurses express is the direct impact the knowledge has on their practice. This knowledge has given them greater confidence and made them examples for others to pursue the benefits of certification. Demonstrating leadership and professional success is a highly effective means of inspiring staff to achieve clinical excellence. One of the indicators of our success is the impact the certified nurses have on policy development, innovative research initiatives and lifelong learning. Having 51 certified nurses in our Intensive Care, Coronary Care and Cardiac Recovery units generates enthusiasm for learning and accountability for practice. Nurses are constantly seeking meaningful, relevant education through journal articles or meetings to enhance their practice. These benefits, consistent with our culture of professional excellence, are evident in the Magnet certification that our facility was awarded. These tools are paramount in the retention and recruitment of new and experienced employees. My colleagues not only embody the vision and values of AACN, but most important, they live their contribution as CCRN nurses.

UPMC Presbyterian
Pittsburgh, Pa.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
We are creating a “Culture of Certification” at UPMC Presbyterian, the flagship hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Certification is a commitment to constant learning, distinction in practice and mastery of nursing, and we applaud the 302 certified nurses in our hospital. In addition to our 108 CCRNs and 4 PCCNs, we have dedicated nurses who are certified in many other specialty areas. Twelve accomplished nurses have attained multiple certifications. We incorporated certification as a criteria for promotion to the senior professional staff nurse (level III) several years ago. To help our staff obtain certification, we promoted several benefits, including on-site review courses, assistance with testing information and preparation materials, and reimbursement for the examination fee following successful completion of the exam. We also increased our recognition of certified nurses throughout the institution. Our newly certified nurses receive a congratulatory letter and pin from our vice-president of Patient Care Services, and new CCRNs and PCCNs receive a note and small gift from our AACN ambassadors. They are recognized in our bimonthly “Nursing Notes” newsletter and monthly e-mail messages distributed to the specialty nursing units. Unit-based displays include plaques, galleries of certification awards and “Walls of Fame” with their photos. Nurse Week is a unique time to celebrate nursing, and the names of our certified nurses are prominently displayed in the public areas of the hospital. Certification is an additional measure of the enthusiasm and dedication of our professional nurses to provide the highest quality of care to their patients.

Karin Schmeling, RN, MSN
Greenfield, Wis.
St. Luke’s Hospital Association
As the nurse clinician in our CICU, I was looking for ways to increase the number of CCRN-certified nurses in our unit. (We had three CCRNs.) In discussions with staff, I discovered some of their personal and system-wide barriers included the need for a review course. Another CNS was organizing a CCRN course, so I assisted her and rallied four staff nurses to take the course with me. We all passed the exam. I continued to talk up certification. A barrier for two of the nurses was the exam fee. Although staff is reimbursed when they pass, they must first pay the fee, which not everyone could do. At this time, I unexpectedly received payment for assisting on a legal consultation case, which was enough to pay two CCRN exam fees. I couldn’t think of a better way to invest my money, having no doubt they would pass with flying colors. They did. We more than doubled the number of certified nurses in our unit. Each time someone passed the exam, we congratulated him or her at staff meetings. We organized a second review course, which I helped teach. Next, I found several Web sites that offered unlimited CEU potential for a small fee, and I e-mailed the information to every nurse in CICU. Everyone is now on the lookout for CEU opportunities. Flyers and information are kept in an educational opportunities binder. With our certification numbers growing, we will display a plaque in our conference room, engraved with our CCRN-certified nurses’ names. We look forward to filling every line.

Do You Qualify for CCRN-E Status


If your CCRN expired due to not meeting direct bedside hours because you were working exclusively and primarily in the remote ICU environment, you have until Dec. 31, 2007 to apply though the Review and Appeals Process to be reinstated under the CCRN-E status. For more information, refer to the CCRN-E Renewal Handbook at www.certcorp.org > What’s New.

Wyoming Accepts the CCNS Exam


Wyoming is the most recent state to accept the CCNS certification exam to qualify for advanced practice RN designation or licensure. Twenty-six states plus the District of Columbia now accept the CCNS exam; three additional states accept the exam but do not have a formal process. A list of states accepting the CCNS exam can be found at www.certcorp.org > CCNS.
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