Aiming to increase by 100 the number of RNs on staff with board certification in their specialty area or the specialty area they want to work in by Dec. 31, 2015, Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, Fla., created the Board Certification Nursing Challenge and met its goal.
The hospital pays for the certification exam, study materials and one retest if a nurse is not successful the first time. Upon certification, the nurse receives more than a $3,000 pay raise. Nurses had to register by Oct. 1, 2015 to take the certification exam.
Leanne Salazar, MSN, MBA, ARNP, FNP-BC, CPPS,CPHQ, chief nursing officer at Oak Hill, explained the challenge.
Q: Is the challenge catching on?
Salazar: Yes, 100 registered nurses have become certified since we began on July 31, 2015. We have 399 RNs, and 187 have achieved certification.
Q: What has motivated the facility to put the challenge out there to staff?
Salazar: The challenge came about when the nursing leadership team talked about what we could do to motivate nurses to better themselves. The nurses benefit personally and professionally, but certification also benefits everyone in the healthcare organization: the physician, the hospital and, most importantly, the patient. We offer our nurses the raise and an opportunity to pay for the certification upfront or we will reimburse them.
Q: Specialty certification is typically for the specialty the nurse is working in, so how are the nurses able to obtain certification in an area they want to work in?
Salazar: Each certification has different eligibility requirements. Nurses can receive certification in other areas. A cardiovascular step-down nurse may become certified in heart failures. A nurse on the med/surg floor could be certified in cardiovascular. Depending on expertise, background and where they want to go, there are other certifications they can go for.
Q: How are nurses acting on the challenge?
Salazar: Nurses are preparing to take the exams. We offered a variety of things to help prepare nurses for their exams, including a practice test, books they can check out and a variety of classes. I thought if we were going to put the challenge out there, we had to provide the resources for them.
Q: How was it presented to drum up support?
Salazar: We launched a campaign. I have a notice on my door, and we have a big sign, with a sphygmomanometer, showing our progress toward 100 nurses with new certifications during the challenge. Ann Runnells is heading up the certification program at a nursing level. She’s out recruiting folks and explaining why it’s important to get certified.
We raised the standards for some units and made some certifications mandatory for ICU, PACU, orthopedics and endoscopy. In the emergency department, we already required certification within six months of a nurse beginning an ED position.
[accordion title=”RNs offer tips for becoming certified” load=”hide”]Ann Runnells, BSN, RN, RN-BC, a charge nurse at Oak Hill Hospital, received her medical/surgical certification in July during the Board Certification Nursing Challenge at the Brooksville, Fla.-based hospital. She has found nurses working in specialty areas were receptive and encouraged their peers to become certified. Though some nurses weren’t receptive at first, watching their peers achieve certification boosted their interest, she said.
Brenda Hermanson, BSN, RN, CCRN,had achieved critical care certification in 2012 and recertified during the challenge.
Runnells and Hermanson offer the following suggestions for colleagues planning to go for certification.
• Prepare and make a commitment to the process.
• Set time aside to study. Hermanson committed to six months, Runnells 12 weeks.
• Divide the content into manageable modules and set a goal for completion. For instance, at the end of every two weeks, the nurse will complete a review of another body system.
• Take the practice tests and learn which topics to study more.
• Review everything again right before the test.
• If taking an online course, practice on a computer.
• Keep a positive attitude and have confidence in yourself while taking the test.
• Read the questions.