AACN News—July 2008—Certification

AACN News Logo

Back to AACN News Home

Vol. 25, No. 7, JULY 2008


Meet the 2008-09 AACN Certification Corporation Board

The AACN Certification Corporation welcomed new leadership on July 1 as Beth Martin, RN, MSN, CCNS, ACNP, succeeded Kevin Reed, RN, MSN, CNA-BC, CPHQ, as chair of the corporation’s Board of Directors.

Taking office with Martin as chair-elect was Maria Shirey, RN, MS, MBA, FACHE, CNAA, BC. Christie Artuso, RN, MA, CCRN, PCCN, and Pam Bolton, RN, MS, ACNP, CCNS, CCRN, PCCN, are newly appointed directors.

Also joining the board as a consumer representative is David Swankin, who is well-known in both the consumer advocacy and certification fields.

John Whitcomb, RN, PhD, CCRN, and Mary Stahl, RN, MSN, APRN, BC, CCNS-CMC, CCRN, were appointed representatives of the AACN Board of Directors. Damon Cottrell RN, MS, CCNS, CCRN, APRN-BC, CEN is Secretary-Treasurer.

Returning to the board as director is Janice Wojcik, RN, MS, CCRN, APRN, BC. Susan Helms, RN, MSN, CCRN, PCCN, Deborah Greenlaw, RN, MS, MSNc, ACNPC, CCRN, APRN, ACNP-CS, and Carol Melman have completed their terms.

Beth Martin

Martin is a nurse practitioner with Palliative Medicine Consultants, Charlotte, N.C.

She received her bachelor of science in nursing at Spalding University, Louisville, Ky., and her master of science in nursing in adult health at the University of South Florida, Tampa, before earning her post-master’s certificate as an acute care nurse practitioner from the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

As an active member of AACN, Martin has volunteered in a variety of roles, including on the CCRN Adult Item Writer Committee, Education Work Group, Faculty Advisory Team and as a member of the AACN Certification Corporation Board for 2003-05.

She is a member of the Piedmont Carolinas Chapter of AACN and a past member of the Gulfcoast Chapter of AACN.

Maria Shirey

Shirey is principal consultant with Shirey & Associates and an adjunct associate professor at the University of Southern Indiana College of Nursing in Evansville, Ind.

An active member of AACN since 1977, she is a recipient of the following Circle of Excellence Awards: Leadership (2002), Multidisciplinary Team for the Code Blue Team at Deaconess Hospital (2003) and the Value of Certification (2005). In addition, she is a champion for healthy work environments, contributing as both an author and editor toward building the body of knowledge on authentic leadership in nursing.


Christie E. Artuso

Artuso is director of Neuroscience Services at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

A member of AACN since 1983, she is an AACN ambassador and president of the South Central Alaska Chapter. Artuso previously served on the AACN Awards Review Panel, AACN Continuing Education Program Review Panel and Research Grants Awards Panel. In addition, she was a member of the PCCN Self-Assessment Exam Writing Task Force.

Pamela J. Bolton

Bolton is a critical care nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist at Good Samaritan Hospital.

A Chapter Advisory Team representative for Region 9, she is a member and past president of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter. She is a past member of the Greater Chesapeake Bay Chapter.

Bolton was a member of the PCCN Practice Analysis Task Force. In addition, she served on the AACN Board Advisory Team, AACN Awards & Scholarships Review Panel and Advanced Practice Advisory Committee, and was a member of the AACN Advanced Critical Care Editorial Board.

David A. Swankin

Swankin is president and CEO of the Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC), a training, research and support network for public members of healthcare regulatory and governing boards.

Swankin is also an attorney specializing in regulatory and administrative law. He has a broad background in both government and public interest advocacy, including assignments at the White House and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Swankin previously served as director of the Bureau of Labor Standards and deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. In the mid-1960s, he became the first executive director of the White House Office of Consumer Affairs.

He was a member of the Pew Health Professions Commission in the late 1990s and also served as a member on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee that wrote the 2003 report “Health Professions Education – A Bridge to Quality” in 2003.

back to top

NTI 2008 Certification Celebration



The Certification Celebration dinner, a popular annual event at NTI, applauds acute and critical care nurses who have achieved and maintained certification.

back to top

AACN Survey Shows Commitment, Satisfaction Higher in Certified Nurses



According to preliminary data from a national survey of AACN members, nurses who feel empowered, connected and committed to their institution feel they have the resources and support to do their jobs and also have the opportunities to advance within their organization.

Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Brooks Ford professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, presented the preliminary survey data at NTI 2008 in Chicago.

“The good news is that 92.8% of our study population said they do not intend to leave the nursing profession. These data are so important for us because we hear so much about the dissatisfaction in nursing and we can at least say that the majority of critical care nurses who participated in our study are pretty happy in the nursing profession,” she said.

Preliminary Findings

The objective of the study, which was funded by AACN, was to identify the differences between specialty certified nurses and noncertified nurses’ intent to leave their current position or institution and whether or not they felt empowered in their current position.

A Web-based survey distributed to AACN members measured the following six components: opportunity, information, support, resources, and formal and informal power. A total of 7,016 valid surveys were returned and compiled.

“Significant differences were found in total empowerment scores between AACN specialty certified nurses versus noncertified nurses,” Fitzpatrick said. “This tells us that AACN certified nurses are more connected to their organization and feel empowered by their organization.”

Furthermore, data showed fewer AACN certified nurses reported they intended to leave their current position compared with noncertified nurses.

“This is great news for all of us in the nursing profession and suggests that we should invest in retention rather than in replacement costs,” Fitzpatrick said. “These results have significant financial implications for the healthcare industry and we hope to widely publicize these results.”

Recommendations for Future Research

“We know from the results of the current study that certification is the significant variable related to structural empowerment,” Fitzpatrick said. “Additional analyses from this study have been planned, which will look into the relationships between demographic variables of those with intent to stay in the profession and among those who do not have the intent to stay.”

She also suggested future research to find out why certain nurses are contemplating leaving their current position, specifically in relation to structural empowerment.

“Specialty certification of registered nurses is significant for every institution,” Fitzpatrick said. “Nurses who are more empowered are more connected and less likely to leave, which is why institutions should invest in certification. We should further research the effect of specialty certified nurses on clinical patient outcomes, safety initiatives and patient and family satisfaction.”

back to top

Volunteers Give Their Time to Nurse Manager Certification Exam

The following volunteers who participated on the Program Committee for the Nurse Manager Certification Exam include Todd Grivetti, BS, RN, CCRN, Brenda Harden-Wike, RN, MSN, CCNS, CCRN, Susan Nelmark, RN, MA,CCRN, and Mark Ambler, RE, BSN, MBA, CCRN.

The volunteers will help develop the first certification exam designed exclusively for nurse managers. The exam will be developed as a result of a partnership between AACN and the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). This certification will provide a way for nurse managers to validate that they have acquired the essential knowledge and skills necessary to be effective in their roles.

back to top

Certification Q & A

Q Do I have to participate on committees, be a preceptor or belong to an organization to renew my certification under Renewal by Synergy CERPs?

A No. Topics or activities may help you earn CERPs in any of the categories. You do not need to precept in order to have category B CERPs. You could take courses, self-study or inservices in topics such as patient safety, palliative care, cultural diversity, ethics, legal aspects, preparing for The Joint Commission, the value of certification or how to conduct an educational needs assessment, to name a few. Other related courses may count as well. In the AACN Online CE Center, CE topics may be searched by Renewal Type (CERPs or Synergy CERPs) and Category (A and O; or A, B and C). These online CE courses are free for AACN members, and nonmembers are charged a nominal fee.

Q I am a CCNS and wondered if precepting students counted toward my clinical renewal hours?

A AACN Certification Corporation requires that if you are counting clinical preceptorship with students as part of your clinical hours to renew your CCNS certification, the students must be at the CNS level. AACN Certification Corporation requires that your practice model the APRN role, as this is required by many of the boards of nursing that use our exam as a proxy measure for APRN designation. Practice hours must be in the advanced practice role.

back to top

Snapshots of the Certification Roundtable

Following are some of the ideas shared at the Certification Roundtable on Best Practices Promoting Certification at NTI 2008 in Chicago. The following nurses described their best practices, their roles and desired or measurable outcomes.

Georgiana Pineda

Oklahoma Heart Hospital gives an annual bonus of $1,500 for current CCRN or PCCN certification and a $300 annual bonus for a second certification. It also pays for employees who are not yet certified to attend review classes. When nurses pass their certification exams, a hospital-wide e-mail is sent to congratulate them. They are also congratulated during quarterly team meetings. The hospital pays for education hours and has an educator for PCCU, one for CCU and another to teach the staff about diabetes. Several nurses in each department help these educators teach classes throughout the year. Various classes are offered and staff members are encouraged to enroll. Most of these classes provide continuing education hours toward recertification. I encourage the staff to get certified, mentioning the “free money” or bonuses the hospital gives out. I encourage them to attend the classes offered and inform them they can repeat the classes every year. I also encourage them to join the local AACN chapter, which holds dinner meetings every two months and offers an hour of continuing education on various health topics.

Our goal is to increase the number of certified nurses in PCCU and CCU, and improve patient outcomes. More nurses are now involved in best practice committees. More nurses are pursuing higher education.

Ronna Gersh

The hospital where I work (Brigham and Women’s) supports certification efforts in a number of ways. The hospital covers the cost of the exam (if the nurse passes). The nurses receive a $500 annual bonus if they maintain their certification. The hospital has many CE programs to limit the need to pay out-of-pocket. When nurses pass the exams, they also have the option of being recognized in our monthly nursing newsletter. I currently work in a progressive care environment. We have bought a number of PCCN review books (the nurses can borrow them). We have also found review courses in the area, publicized them and encouraged nurses to attend. Many new nurses are unaware of the PCCN exam, so we have done a lot of education around the idea of certification.

Allison Scheflow

The unit reimburses the test fee for nurses who pass the certification exam. National certification will bring the nurse to a Level IV pay status (highest level). We offer a CCRN review, with CEs, twice a year. I have developed a CCRN review bulletin board with questions and answers in the staff lounge. I developed the bulletin board with questions from the CCRN review I attended at NTI 2007 in Atlanta. I encourage the nurses in my unit to take the review and then the test at NTI. We are also developing a loaner library with study aids and books; some nurses have formed study groups. Our goals include increasing the number of certified nurses in the unit, because we believe that certification improves patient safety, nurse’s job satisfaction and the professionalism of the staff.

back to top