July Update: Focus on Progressive Care

We’d like to tap your communication and motivational skills to increase your colleagues’ familiarity with the growing field of progressive care, the value of PPCN certification — AACN’s fastest-growing certification — and PCCN educational resources.

This month’s update includes PCCN facts to share with clinicians, educators and managers. As an AACN ambassador, you’re ideally positioned to help progressive care nurses identify themselves and recognize their unique knowledge and skills.

Thank you for the passion you bring to your volunteer role as a bridge between colleagues at the bedside and our national community of exceptional nurses.


Progressive Care: Facts, Certification, Resources


What is progressive care? AACN introduced the term progressive care more than a decade ago to describe the care needs of acutely ill patients who are moderately stable with a high risk of instability. They have complex needs that require highly skilled nursing care, but they’re not quite critically ill.

Why is progressive care growing? Advances in healthcare, longer life spans and a larger aging population mean critical care beds are in short supply. That means patients who still require complex care leave the ICU sooner than they did a decade ago. Some don’t even get to an ICU but go directly to a progressive care unit.

Where is progressive care delivered? Progressive care units include step-down, intermediate care, telemetry, transitional, direct observation and some med-surg units. They also include LTACHs, the long-term acute care hospitals where patients — especially those who are ventilator dependent — now receive care.

Am I a progressive care nurse? Whether they focus on a patient’s care needs or where care is delivered, most nurses easily identify themselves as “ICU or not ICU” nurses. Things get fuzzy with progressive care because patients who require this level of care may receive it in a wide range of settings.

PCCN Certification

Is PCCN certification new? AACN introduced PCCN certification for progressive care nursing nearly 10 years ago.

How many PCCN-certified nurses are there? PCCN is AACN’s fastest-growing credential with nearly 10,000 certified nurses.

How current is the PCCN exam? The current version of the exam was just released on June 26. It is based on AACN’s most recent national job analysis for progressive care. Also called studies of practice, these periodic surveys of practicing clinicians ensure that certification exams are evidence-based with content directly tied to current clinical practice.

Where can I get more information about PCCN certification? Visit the PCCN certification page.

Progressive Care Resources

New PCCN Certification Review Course. To be launched by the end of July, the new review course will prepare nurses for the newly released PCCN exam. The course is based on a live PCCN certification review webinar presented by nationally recognized educator Carol Rauen, RN, MS, CCNS, CCRN, PCCN, CEN, an independent clinical nurse specialist and educational consultant. Features include:

  • Full alignment with new PCCN test plan: This ensures you study the right information and know what to expect on the exam.
  • In-depth exam preparation: This interactive learning experience includes comprehensive content review, ample knowledge checks throughout and test-taking tips. Offers 13.0 CNE contact hours.
  • 50% price discount: AACN is offering the on-demand version of the new progressive care review course at a 50% discount to prospective certificants when they register for the exam and purchase the on-demand review course simultaneously. The course will also be available on CD-ROM through the AACN online bookstore.

Additional study tools: PCCN exam study tools, including the Practice PCCN Exam Questions with 120 answer-keyed items, are available in AACN’s online bookstore.

Another valuable resource is the PCCN Self-Assessment Exam (SAE). The 75-item exam offers immediate learner feedback with rationale and a score report to assess your strengths and areas for further study.

Progressive care textbooks: AACN Core Curriculum for Progressive Care Nursing and AACN Essentials of Progressive Care Nursing, 2nd ed., are also available from AACN’s online bookstore.  

AACN Progressive Care Pathways, Sept. 17-20, MGM Grand, Las Vegas. This conference, the only for progressive are clinicians, is for nurses practicing in stepdown, intermediate, telemetry, transitional, high acuity, direct observation or med-surg progressive care units. Faculty experts who understand firsthand the challenges of caring for “not quite ICU” patients address a wide range of patient needs and direct application of current evidence. Register by Aug. 20 for a discounted rate. Conference brochures will be available soon through the Ambassador Resource Order Form.

August Events: Pain Assessment

Aug. 8 AACN Webinar: Pain and Sedation in Critically Ill Patients. Ever find it challenging to evaluate patient data about pain and agitation and determine the best treatment? On Thursday, Aug. 8, 10 a.m. PDT, join “Pain and Sedation: Managing and Assessing in the Critically Ill.” Brenda Pun from Vanderbilt University Medical Center presents a 30-minute session on identification of valid and reliable assessment tools and implementation of evidence-based interventions. This is the first in a three-part series about interpreting clinical practice guidelines for pain, agitation and delirium (PAD). Learn more and register.

Aug. 8 New AACN Practice Alert: Pain Assessment in the ICU Adult. This new practice alert will recommend evidence-based nursing practices to manage the challenge of assessing pain in critically ill adults while improving patient outcomes and patient satisfaction.

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