Newswise — With the increasing acuity of today’s hospitalized patients, a growing number of acute and critical care nurses are shifting to roles where they influence patient outcomes by sharing their unique clinical knowledge and expertise rather than providing care directly.
These nursing knowledge professionals work in a multitude of roles, including educators, researchers, administrators, care coordinators and managers, and in a variety of settings, including hospitals, health networks and nursing schools.
Recognizing this evolution in nursing practice, AACN Certification Corporation — the credentialing arm of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) — now offers two credentials for knowledge professionals: PCCN-K and CCRN-K. Together, these credentials enable a broader spectrum of nurses to demonstrate through certification that they possess a distinct body of specialty knowledge and meet national standards of excellence.
The new PCCN-K specialty certification for progressive care and the CCRN-K acute/critical care credential launched in 2014 provide options for nurses who have transitioned away from direct care to knowledge-based roles.
Among these nursing knowledge professionals is Leslie Foran-Lee, RN, MSN, PCCN-K, one of the first progressive care nurses to earn the PCCN-K credential. Foran-Lee, who works as an advanced clinical educator at Virtua, a community-based health system in New Jersey, finds certification as important to knowledge professional roles as it is to direct-care practice.
“As nursing educators, we’re helping shape the nurses at the frontline of care,” Foran-Lee said. “Throughout the health system, we are constantly evaluating our patient outcomes. Our education and clinical staff work hand-in-hand to apply evidence-based practices at the bedside and deliver the best care possible to our patients. That means we all need top-notch knowledge and skills, and certification is an excellent way to validate our practice against national standards.”
Katherine Tryon, RN, MSN, MSHSA, CCRN-K, is a clinical learning educator II at Baptist Health South Florida in Miami. She’s part of the department of clinical learning, working with other former direct-care nurses who have become subject matter experts and now provide in-house professional development for nurses and other clinical staff for the health system.
“I’m contributing to the care of patients by educating our staff nurses and collaborating with them about how to provide the best care,” Tryon said. “Our efforts are distinct but connected, and we all have an impact on patient outcomes. A nurse is a nurse, regardless of whether they provide direct care. You never lose that focus on the patient.”
“My certification demonstrates to patients and colleagues my commitment to optimal care,” Tryon continued. “Getting the needed clinical hours to maintain my CCRN became an ongoing challenge when my role changed to focus on education instead of direct care — it often meant volunteering and moonlighting. CCRN-K solves that dilemma and better reflects the role I’m in now.”
Sharing those sentiments is Telly deBoarts, RN, MBA/HCM, MSN, CCRN-K. She is director of professional development and nursing excellence at Rose Medical Center, a 422-bed community teaching hospital in Denver.
“Being the conduit for education and development of our critical care nurses is how I continue to serve patients,” said deBoarts, a former CCRN-certified staff nurse. “Now, I take care of the nurses who take care of the patients. We all have the same goal: to get our patients back to their life. Together, we can reduce errors and tighten up processes. All that helps improve patient outcomes.”
When deBoarts didn’t have enough hours of direct care to maintain her CCRN, she opted to move to inactive status rather than let it lapse. “My certification was an integral part of my identity as a nurse, and I couldn’t just give up,” she said. “When CCRN-K was launched, I immediately signed up. Earning my CCRN-K has allowed me to pick back up part of my self-image as a critical care nurse.”
Nurses like deBoarts, who were not previously eligible to obtain or maintain CCRN or PCCN certification due to direct-care hours requirements, may now be eligible for CCRN-K or PCCN-K.
There are specific practice-hour requirements for the PCCN-K and CCRN-K credentials. Nursing professionals in roles such as educator, manager, director or administrator may be eligible, but not all nurses working in these roles qualify. Nurses in other roles also may be eligible.
The certifications may be obtained through completion of an initial exam or as a renewal option for nurses who already have CCRN, CCRN-E or PCCN certification.
Potential candidates can access additional information on AACN’s website, including eligibility requirements, FAQ, test plans, practice exam questions and other resources.
About AACN Certification Corporation: AACN Certification Corporation, the credentialing arm of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, maintains professional practice excellence through certification of nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families. AACN Certification Corporation offers the CCRN, CCRN-K, CCRN-E, PCCN, PCCN-K, CCNS, ACCNS-AG, ACCNS-P, ACCNS-N, ACNPC and ACNPC-AG certification programs in acute, progressive and critical care; CMC and CSC subspecialty certification in cardiac medicine and cardiac surgery; and, in partnership with AONE Credentialing Center, CNML certification for nurse managers and leaders. Since 1976, AACN Certification Corporation has granted more than 100,000 nursing certifications.
About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than half a million acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 225 chapters worldwide. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. www.aacn.org; facebook.com/aacnface; twitter.com/aacnme