Ambassador Best Practices - Certification

Creating a Culture of Certification - Heather Maude, Atlanta, Ga.
Creating a Culture of Certification - Cher Hagaman, Newport Beach, Calif.
View additional best practices on the AACN Certification Corporation webpage


Name: Grace Silverstein, VCU Health System

Beginning in February, 2011, I will be giving my new hires an empty folder that contains inside pockets. The outside of the folder will have their name on it I let them know that the folder is to be used to collect documents to encourage them to reach for certification or to support advancing the clinical ladder.

They would keep items such as patient or peer letters, written encouragement about certification, etc. The response has been positive and they like the idea of gathering information.

3 critical success factors:
  1. Letting them know the expectation
  2. Supporting them with the experience
  3. Providing a tangible tool to help with achieving their goal 
goals/data measurement:
Outcomes will be an increase in the number of certified nurses and in the number of nurses challenging the ladder within two years of hire. Data gathering will be ongoing.



Name: Tiffany Petty, Community Regional Medical Center

Since becoming an AACN Member and receiving my CCRN certification in May, I was on a mission to increase our number of CCRN's within our level 1 trauma critical care unit at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Calif.

I was inspired by the feeling of competency it gave me that I desperately wanted to share. That same month I applied to become an AACN Ambassador to further my ability to get our nurses certified.

With my ambassadorship I posted numerous posters and sent many emails on gaining membership with AACN while promoting certification. My annual goal was to increase our certified nurses from 42% (61 nurses in May) to 50% (73 nurses) by the end of the year. Using the group discount offered, I am very excited to say that I had 12 critical care nurses apply in August and have an additional 10 applications that will be submitted in November.

In addition, I have also attended local chapter meetings and have given posters, pens, and other pamphlets on the value of AACN membership and certification to other hospitals throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

3 critical success factors:
  1. My enthusiasm and belief that my peers were capable of obtaining certification.
  2. Increased interest by implementing the many promotional items I was able to receive with my ambassadorship.
  3. We have an overwhelming amount of resources available to us. Reading other best practice submissions has helped tremendously on giving me great ideas on my own mission.
goals/data measurement:

My goal to increase our number of certified nurses from 42% to 50% within our ICU is part of my clinical nurse III goal worksheet done in July.

The 12 nurses that applied in August have until the middle of November this year to test. If all pass, I will have reached my annual goal however I am continuing my mission until we are 100% certified.

With this goal in mind I am forming quarterly groups of 10 or more and have almost finished a second group of applications to be completed by the end of November. These will test between January and March 2011.

In this group I have reached out beyond our ICU and have targeted areas such as CVU, burn, NICU and step-down (for their PCCN certification).

But as an AACN Ambassador in such a large hospital community, I feel it is my duty to continue reaching out to other hospital critical care units to increase awareness and promotion for AACN and to join as a member and certify in their expertise.


Name: Dawn Keller, Wellstar Kennestone 

I started a PCCN study group with telemetry nurses. Many  nurses had taken a review course months ago but had not taken the exam.

We are starting a 6-week review course with staff presenting the information obtained from the PCCN test guide. Other managers heard about the course and want their staff  who are interested to participate also.

3 critical success factors:
  1. Encouragement and support from leadership
  2. Being able to assist in providing resources for study materials
  3. The ability to assist with the understanding the benefits of certification in their clinical practice
goals/data measurement:

By the end of the six weeks all will have submitted an application to test. We will have created and developed a certification wall when testing completed. 

Study group starting in two weeks with orientation and assignment of topics. No data to date.


Name: Liz Fackina, Saint Joseph's Regional Medical Center

I compiled current information following the CCRN blue print and created a presentation along with copies and handouts. Each body system ended with an interactive question-and-answer session with an anonymous audience response system.

Evaluations were very positive and 11 RNs are preparing for their CCRN certification exam at this time. My fellow educators also offer certification exams for their specialty areas.

3 critical success factors:
  1. Encouraging and increasing staff nurse's awareness about certification and what it says for and about the professional registered nurse.
  2. The knowledge and belief that education empowers nurses to create possiblities and achieve and contribute to positive patient outcomes.
  3. The organization is a Magnet facility and we are striving for 100% of certified RNs housewide. We award a bonus of $1,000 is during National Nurses Week also. Along with this course, many other specialty certifications are offered to staff nurses along with a wonderful celebration dinner with and for all certified RNs in the system.
goals/data measurement:

Reporting of RNs passing the CCRN exam as many have and will continue to do so. We just finished a wave of certification review courses and have others scheduled.

The  complete data is not yet available.


Name: Cathy Schuster,UCSF

From the day that I volunteered to be our unit's first AACN Ambassador, I have represented AACN to our staff of 150 nurses. I an the go-to person for questions regarding AACN, CCRN and NTI.

I always encourage bulk membership to help decrease the cost. Over six years ago, I introduced the idea at our unit's leadership meeting that all of our charge nurses and clinical nurse IIIs should be CCRN-certified.

The idea was accepted and encouraged by our patient care manager. With funds from our ICU medical director, I purchased over $300 of CCRN study materials and started a lending library for our nurses.

When nurses pass their CCRN exam, I present them with a CCRN pin and CCRN pull-ID tag. Their names are engraved on our CCRN plaque displayed on the wall by our nurses front desk.

Our medical director just told us this week that he would pay for half of the CCRN test fees to encourage more CCRNs in our 2010 Beacon Award unit. Whoopie!

3 critical success factors:

I am so pleased to tell you of our receiving the Beacon Award this year. I have worked in this unit for 29 years and feel blessed to work with such a high-caliber staff. 

They always place their patient's first, work as a team, have good relationships with our interdisciplinary health team and have the full support from our unit patient care managers, clinical nurse specialist and ICU medical director.

The patient-focused, evidenced-based culture of our unit has been critical to the success that I have experienced in implementing our drive towards each nurse becoming CCRN certified.

goals/data measurement:
We are currently collecting data on the number of nurses becoming CCRN-certified.


Name: Shauna Lobre, UCSF Children's Hospital

It was a proud moment. One of my co-workers with 3 years experience and I, with 23 years experience, had a midnight chat about the value of being a CCRN and the value of being part of AACN.

She decided to join and asked for my member number to use as a reference. Three months later she passed her CCRN!

She never told me she was taking the test so my heart was filled with pride when I heard. It was such a proud moment that started from a 15-minute midnight talk.

I just bought her a special card to leave in her mailbox as a surprise from her mentor! It really is the little things sometimes.

3 critical success factors:
  1. The one to one approach
  2. The ability to articulate the value of being part of AACN
  3. The pride you feel once you obtain your CCRN
goals/data measurement:
No scientific data for this best practice but it has empowered me to keep spreading the word and to be there as support to my c-oworkers who are thinking of becoming CCRN-certified. My co-worker who passed told me there are many others who want to become CCRN certified in our unit so my work has just begun.


Name: Judi Robinson, Simi Valley Hospital

Some of our critical care staff expressed an interest in becoming certified in critical care. To that end we established a CCRN seminar workshop.

We initially met once a month, but quickly realized that was too infrequent. Now we meet every two weeks, same time and same day of the week.

We answer review questions and discuss the rationale for the answers. As the ICU educator I serve as a moderator and a resource.

We began by answering questions based on body systems but I think this is going to change and we'll answer questions as they follow in our guide book. We started with 12 RNs signing up for the workshop but have had three — four consistently come at the biweekly meetings.

3 critical success factors:

We're still quite new at this process so we're still feeling our way. Interest remains fairly consistent.

If we encountered a treatment, diagnosis or phrase no one in the group can identify we either look in my reference material or assign someone in the group to research it and report at the next meeting. This has worked well.

goals/data measurement:

Our goal is to increase the number of CCRNs in the unit. Right now we are at three.

Our director has informed us she is willing to purchase study material in the form of CDs or books. The group has been charged to come up with some ideas of materials and how they will be used.


Name: Susan Paran, Rose Medical Center 
  • Promoting certification among colleagues who don't have their certification yet.
  • One-on-one discussion’s on the benefit on obtaining their certification.
  • There is an upcoming CCRN review sponsored by the local chapter.
    • I have encouraged my colleagues on signing up for the review.
  • There has been a good turnover on the number of RNs signing up.
3 critical success factors:
  1. One-on-one discussion’s with fellow RNs on the benefits of certification.
  2. Discussing the benefit of having more certified RNs in the unit with the unit manager and director of nursing.
  3. Being a role model to newer (younger) RNs who have been hired in the ICU. The newer RNs come to me for questions about the condition, interventions and care of their patient. I often mention the fact that I learn a lot of things from attending classes for CEU to maintain my certification.
goals/data measurement:
There will be an increase in the number of RNs with their certification. Currently, we only have five but my goal is to have five more by the end of this year.


Name: Patricia Eppel, The Christian Hospital 

I am facilitating a study group for the CCRN exam that uses the DVD set from AACN. We have a 5-month plan of review and then an expectation that the nurse will take the exam in the first quarter of 2011.

I have also posted AACN posters to encourage staff members to join. 

3 critical success factors:
  1. Administrative support
  2. Continued encouragement by myself to others
  3. Making the sessions fun
goals/data measurement:
My outcome will be the amount of staff that take the CCRN exam next year and successfully pass. I do not have data at this time.


Name: Marie Foley-Danecker, Ocean Medical Center 
Summary: Partnered unit/hospital with the local AACN Jersey Shoreline Chapter to sponsor a 2-day CCRN Prep Course at our hospital
3 critical success factors:
  1. Strong relationship with local chapter.
  2. Engagement of a team who believes in certification!
  3. Organization has made certification a priority. 
goals/data measurement:
Looking to increase unit CCRN rate.


Name: Patricia Aylward, Brigham and Women's Hospital

During our annual reviews, I discuss career and practice development. I also discuss certification and offer the staff member the certification information.

As a chapter board member, I worked to have a PCCN/CCRN review course and not just a CCRN review course. We now annually have a combination review course.

In addition, I make sure that my staff has an opportunity to attend.

3 critical success factors:
  1. Being a member of AACN and active on the board
  2. Running the review course
  3. Having my certification as well as hiring a nurse educator who has her certification
goals/data measurement:
Outcome goal: Beacon Award
Data: not to date




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