AACN News—June 2008—Certification

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Vol. 25, No. 6, JUNE 2008


Creating a Culture of Certification: Best Practices Roundtable

The participants at this NTI session did some advance work to select three of the best practices they wanted to hear more about on-site, in addition to the small roundtable sharing. Here are the selections:

• Paula Schmidt (Ore.) shared some of her hospital’s best practices, which have resulted in 30% of the ICU nurses becoming certified (a 20% increase from the previous year). Ambassadors play a role in encouraging nurses in their learning and studying to become certified. The nurse manager works with nurses to develop career goals, and those who are eligible to become certified are encouraged to prepare for certification. The hospital makes resources available, including a CCRN library to promote certification.

• Karen Goessling (Mo.) organizes lists of nurses in two ICUs interested in sharing materials and studying together for certification exam preparation. She provides packets to nurses interested in becoming certified, including a hospital grant application to be reimbursed for the cost of the exam, if the candidate passes. She also facilitates CCRN mentorship for those interested in becoming certified.

• Leslie Swadener-Culpepper and Maredyth Walters (Ga.) discussed their hospital’s annual certification luncheon to recognize all certified nurses. Their hospital offers a differential, and applies clinical ladder points for attaining and maintaining national certification. They also have “wall of fame” boards in the public areas of the ICUs where every certified nurse’s certificate is displayed.

These are just some of many wonderful best practices occurring in hospitals across the nation to encourage nurses to become certified and to recognize and support them as they maintain certification.

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Nurse Manager Certification Exam in Development in Partnership With AONE

AONE and AACN Certification Corporation are working in partnership to develop a Nurse Manager Certification Exam. AONE will manage this exam. Item writers met in Chicago in April to develop items based on the test plan developed by a recent AACN/AACN Certification Corporation Study of Practice of first-line managers. Thank you to the volunteers representing AACN Certification Corporation on the Nurse Manager Item Writing Committee; they are:

Kathryn McBroom, RN, ADN
Todd Grivetti, BS, RN, CCRN
Brenda Hardin-Wike, RN, MSN, CCNS, CCRN
Heather Kalin, RN, CCRN, BS, MS
William Mausser, RN, BSN, MBA, CCRN
Catrice Minjarez, RN, MSN, CCRN
Susan Nelmark, RN, MA, CCRN
Nora Protokowicz, MSN, RN, CNA-BC
Gail Sundberg, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNA-BC

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ACNPC State Approval Update

At press time, the following states have approved the ANCPC exam; with several more on upcoming agendas. Several states do not require ACNP certification.



If you are interested in becoming ACNPC certified through exam (for new graduates) or through endorsement (for currently certified ACNPs meeting AACN renewal requirements), contact your state Board of Nursing for the latest information about ACNPC exam approval in your state. More information about ANCPC may be found at www.aacn.org > Certification > ACNPC.

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Healthy Work Environments Promote Specialty Certification

Leadership and support are crucial to creating a work environment in which certification is encouraged and empowerment blossoms.

Milisa Manojlovich, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, and Greta Lynn Krapohl, a nursing instructor on the Med/Surg floor for undergrad medical students at the University of Michigan, urged attendees to become leaders in their nursing units in a session at NTI 2008 in Chicago last month.

“When you come from an empowered work environment, your nurses are going to want to be certified,” said Manojlovich.

Nurses need to create work environments that are productive and satisfying so that they provide the highest quality care for their patients. Empowerment can be developed on either an organizational or psychological level. Manojlovich suggested that attendees start at the unit level and act as role models for the entire nursing staff.

“We’re advocating not just for unit-based strategies and tool kits,” said Manojlovich, “but also organizational support. It all starts with one unit. Pick that unit in your hospital that has the most outgoing, assertive and committed nurses to certification and get a portion of those nurses certified.”

She suggested many strategies to promote certification within a nursing unit. Posters and flyers informing nurses of the benefits of certification can be displayed throughout the workplace. Tuition reimbursement and cash incentives can also be awarded to those who obtain certification. A nursing unit can purchase CCRN prep books and participate in group courses to prepare for certification. Other options to promote certification include giving nurses paid time off for a day to take the certification exam.

“When you see nurses making rounds, hand them a flyer and say, ‘this is information on nursing certification and we want you to know about it. It is important to the nursing practice and it is important to patient outcomes,”’ Manojlovich said. “Say the words. Put the information out there.”

Manojlovich also suggested that certification be a requirement for professional advancement programs. Recognition of those who are certified can cause certification efforts to become contagious. Unit-based celebrations and inclusion of certification titles on name badges are other ways to promote certification.

“It is all in the message,” Manojlovich said. “Whether it is explicit or implicit, the message has to be strong and consistent. You can all go back to your organizations as ambassadors.”
Krapohl reminded attendees that recertification is also important and should not be neglected.

“We always talk about people getting certified and conversations need to be just as important about getting recertified and emphasizing continual learning,” Krapohl said.

While commitment to certification on a unit level is important, Manojlovich also emphasized increasing a personal sense of feeling powerful. She stated that every nurse needs a sense of meaning in the workplace. They also need to feel that they have an impact and make a difference. Autonomy, she pointed out, is also important. Obtaining certification can help nurses become more assertive and feel more competent.

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