Despite the multi-faceted challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many acute and critical care nurses have forged ahead with their certification goals.
To help shed light on what it’s like becoming certified during the pandemic, we spoke with Cecille Reloj, a direct care Surgical ICU nurse who recently earned her CCRN credential. In this video, AACN Certification Practice Specialist Cindi Noe chats with Cecille about her certification experience, including why she chose to do it, what it was like at the testing center and what advice she has for other nurses.
Cindi Noe: Hi, Cecille. Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your story.
Cecille Reloj: Thank you so much for having me, Cindi. I'm really glad to be a part of this.
Cindi Noe: What led you to pursue your CCRN certification now?
Cecille Reloj: That has been my plan all along, to definitely get that CCRN exam and having my skills validated at the same time. I know that's a very big plus. It's definitely something, a certification that's very fulfilling to have under my badge. When our patients know that we're actually specialized and our skills are validated with the CCRN exam, it really does reassure our patients when they receive that care from us. It really is an internal confidence boost when you're amongst your peers and people, they know that I'm capable
Cindi Noe: Did you have any safety concerns about in-person testing?
Cecille Reloj: I did initially, yes. Especially since a lot of the facilities, a lot of stores, a lot of everything was closing. It was a matter of when I was going to take it, if COVID was ever going to fade.
Cindi Noe: Can you describe your experience at the test center?
Cecille Reloj: You're going to be in good hands. These are places that are aware of the people that they're going to be receiving and providing service to, to take an exam for. They have their protocols. I was told that everything was sanitized and everything was. Everybody, including the proctor, it was me and then maybe two other testers. We had our masks on, we kept our masks on. We maintained our six feet social distancing, we washed our hands. They had hand sanitizer at their desk available for us. I thought that my test center was handling everything to the best of their ability. It really eased my anxiety with that part of it.
Cindi Noe: How did you feel when you finished the exam?
Cecille Reloj: It was a lot of mixture of emotions. It was relief. A big part of it was just me feeling relieved. Then following that, I was nervous. I really was nervous. And when my proctor is doing what she needed to do to get my results, reflecting, it felt like forever. I really wasn't expecting her to tell me. I thought she was just going to give me my results, but she told me, "You passed!," and it was that moment of a victory dance, me wanting to hug her, but I couldn't. I kept myself from doing so.
Cindi Noe: How did you celebrate?
Cecille Reloj: I did a victory dance inside the test room. I did a victory dance outside the test room. I did one in my car. I took a picture with my exam. It was a moment where I thought, should I show this off or not? I did.
Cindi Noe: What advice would you give nurses now that are thinking about getting certified in these times?
Cecille Reloj: During this really troubled time, during this year, this unpredictable year, it's still doable. For this moment in time, it's doable. You're capable of doing it. I will say that if I can do it in the third trimester, 37 weeks pregnant, during the time of a pandemic on a hot summer day, on a night shift schedule, if you want to add that, and I can do it, anybody can do it. I genuinely feel that any ICU nurse is perfectly capable of doing the CCRN exam and getting that validation of your skills. During this time of this pandemic, it's not something that can stop you. It really can't.