The Path to Board Certification for Emergency Nursing

The Path to Board Certification for Emergency Nursing

With the country in chaos during the spread of the coronavirus, we’ve published many stories on how to deal with it in various ways. But in addition to dealing with it now, this experience may have gotten you thinking about your career in the future—especially with emergency services.

While the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) will celebrate its 40th anniversary this coming June, we interviewed its leader now to give you information that you may want if you’re contemplating moving into this kind of work and want to know about the Board Certifications available and how to get them.

Janie Schumaker, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, CENP, CPHQ, FABC, is the Executive Director of the BCEN, which is based in Oak Brook, Illinois. She answered our questions about what board certification for emergency nursing means and how to go about it.

What is the importance of being board certified as opposed to simply earning another kind of certification?

Holding a board certification vs. earning a certificate are often confused and misunderstood.

A board certification, like for example BCEN’s Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN ®) or Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN®) designation, is an earned credential that demonstrates the individual’s specialized knowledge and skills across an entire specialty body of knowledge. Certification is awarded by a third-party organization, like the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing, and high-quality programs are accredited by an organization such as the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nurse Certification (ABSNC).

Individuals receive their certification after meeting strict eligibility requirements and successfully completing a rigorous national certification examination. In addition, board certifications have ongoing requirements that must be met to maintain the credential, ensuring the holder is sustaining their level of expertise. Certifications are nationally recognized and are appropriately included with the earner’s signature along with their academic credentials.

Where board certification is about validating mastery across a specialty, a certificate and other instruction-based certifications importantly help nurses acquire focused knowledge and skills. Examples of certificates are Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) or Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC™).

Board certification is the highest professional credential a nurse can earn, and being board certified demonstrates a commitment to one’s career, patients, and organization.

How do nurses earn this?

Earning a board certification from BCEN requires an unrestricted U.S. RN license or equivalent. Just recently, we announced a new international candidate process that for nurses educated and/or practicing outside the U.S. We recommend that a nurse has two years of practice in the specialty area before sitting for that exam. When ready, nurses complete an application to sit for the exam, chose a testing time and site that works for them, and then take the test on the specified day. Of course, there is much preparation that is necessary prior to the exam.

If nurses think they might be interested in becoming board certified, what do they need to do?

Nurses who are interested in becoming board certified should incorporate preparation into their career plans early. Often it is required or recommended nurses have a certain amount of time working in their specialty area—for example, 2 years.

Start by researching the nursing specialty certification board that provides the credential in your specialty area. Take a look at their website. They will have a candidate handbook that explains eligibility and testing. Each certification exam has a test blueprint or content outline. This is very helpful in determining what to expect on the exam and what to study.

Many certification boards also provide a list of reference books used to create their exams. These can be very helpful to know what resources to use to study. Another thing that is highly effective is for nurses interested in certification to form a study group and prepare for the exam together.

Nurses interested in certification should also ask their employers about the support and resources they offer. Many employers value the impact certified nurses make in the workplace and offer support in various forms. Membership in a professional association can mean you qualify for a discount on certification and recertification fees.

[BCEN’s resource page, which includes everything from content outlines to test anxiety resources is here. Their resource page for students is here.]

Oregon Study: State Needs Primary Care NPs

Oregon Study: State Needs Primary Care NPs

Counties across Oregon are suffering from a shortage of primary care Nurse Practitioners (PCNPs), according to a 2019 survey. A recent study from the Oregon Center for Nursing found that despite the promising national statistics reported by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), which estimates that over 75% of NPs are practicing in primary care settings, the distribution of these NPs is severely lacking in Oregon.

As PCNPs are vitally needed to compensate for the shortage of physicians, their unavailability is severely felt in parts of Oregon, which is one of the 22 “full practice” states in the US. In contrast to the AANP’s national figures, a state-specific study of Oregon indicates that only one third of practicing NPs (35%) are working in primary care, with another 22% focusing on a combination of specialty and primary care. Of the 22% with combined practices, 62% spend less than half their time on primary care.

Surprisingly, the shortage of primary care NPs tends to be more evident in urban counties, whereas rural counties appear to be better served. Although there are fewer PCNPs by number in rural counties, the proportion of PCNPs is actually higher in rural areas when measured against per capita population figures.

The Oregon Center for Nursing makes three recommendations:

  1. Communities should promote incentives such as student loan repayment programs and grants to attract PCNPs to practice in their areas. In addition, incentives could be devised to encourage primary care physician groups to hire NPs and include them in their existing practices.
  2. The education system in Oregon should examine ways to increase the number of PCNP graduates. Currently, some 70% of the PCNPs practicing in Oregon received their degrees in out-of-state schools. This indicates that the facilities within Oregon are not able to meet present needs for the education of PCNPs, and until the state expands educational opportunities for PCNPs, it will be necessary to fill the gap with graduates from other states.
  3. Community leaders and health officials should explore the reasons that affect NP decisions to focus on primary care. In addition to considering the question of why PCNPs are being drawn more to rural areas in Oregon than urban counties, these officials should ask “Why do NPs choose to work in non-primary care roles? What incentives might change their minds? Once these underlying reasons are understood, communities can use this knowledge to attract NPs to provide primary care in their communities.”

For more details, visit here, or click the following link to see the full report (PDF file).

VA Asking Retired Federal Health Care Providers to Come Back to Work

VA Asking Retired Federal Health Care Providers to Come Back to Work

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is directly contacting retired VA and Federal clinicians to join them in the ongoing effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

VA needs experienced patient-care providers during the crisis to help those already providing the best care to our Veterans at VA medical centers, outpatient clinics and community living centers.  

The department is reaching out to retired VA and Federal health care providers through social media, massive postcard mailings, email and word of mouth. VA staff are currently working the phones to ask if former colleagues are interested in coming back for a 120-day assignment, renewable up to one year.

“The nation’s health care system is dealing with an unprecedented crisis,” said Dr. Richard Stone, Executive In Charge, Veterans Health Administration. “Beyond VHA’s primary mission of providing care for our Veterans, we have a fourth mission, which is to be the safety net for our Nation’s health care system. We need everyone to join us in this fight, and recently retired health care professionals can come in and make an immediate impact.”

Stepping Up

After retiring in 2014, former VHA Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Nurse Executive Catherine Rick has answered the call and is awaiting her assignment from VA. “I could work virtually from home or I could travel. I’m healthy and I’m tech-savvy,” said Rick, who lives in the Phoenix area.

Rick said her high regard for VA staff and her experience in hurricane emergency response made her want to step up during the current health crisis. “In my 22 years of experience with VA, I can say I have the highest regard for everything VA does — and can do. There is an extremely talented staff across the VA system, and the work the emergency relief staff does made me think about what they’re going through. I knew their wheels must be spinning in overtime.”

VA is especially looking for nurses and other health care providers, including physicians, pharmacists, laboratory technicians and respiratory therapists, with interest and expertise in:

  • Direct patient care/support (at a VA medical center and/or outpatient clinic)
  • Tele/virtual care
  • Travel Nurse Corps

On March 19, 2020. the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), approved a VA request to waive a section of Federal law to make it easier for the department to rehire retired VA health care providers. As re-employed annuitants, employees will receive their Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) annuities, as well as a paycheck as a Federal employee, without any offset to their retirement income. OPM instituted the waiver through March 31, 2021.

Expanding VA’s workforce helps the department better fulfill its mission of caring for our Nation’s heroes and supporting the Federal government in our public health mission during a pandemic.

Call to Action

VA needs you! If you would like to join your fellow health care providers in caring for our Veterans and support the national effort to combat the coronavirus, please do the following:

  • Register online if you are a retired nurse or health care provider interested in joining VA as a re-employed annuitant. Or email your availability and resume to vacareers@va.gov.  
  • Visit vacareers.va.gov if you are a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or certified registered nurse anesthetist interested in joining the Travel Nurse Corps, providing telehealth, or being assigned to a VA Medical Center.
  • Call retired nurses and other health care providers and share information about VA’s recruitment needs and efforts, including the:

You can also learn more about VA’s response to the coronavirus by visiting VA’s public health site.

How to Incorporate National Nurses Week into Your Recruiting Strategy

How to Incorporate National Nurses Week into Your Recruiting Strategy

Learn recruitment strategies that tie in with National Nurses Week and how they can be a helpful tool in gaining quality nursing staff that you are more likely to retain. With the national nursing shortage still an issue today, recruiting new nurses for your clinical positions as well as enticing new student nurses is a top priority. How you go about recruitment can make a difference in whether potential hires choose your hospital as their place of employment.

The Importance of a Recruitment Strategy

The nursing shortage doesn’t necessarily affect your ability to find new hires. Because many hospitals have difficulty with retention, nurses are often looking for new jobs. There are also still plenty of nursing students entering the profession. The real issue is how to attract them. This is where your recruitment strategy becomes invaluable. It’s also vital to keep in mind that your retention strategy starts with your recruitment efforts. The steps you take to recruit new nurses to your program is also what will make them want to stay if you handle it properly.

According to the American Organization of Nurse Executives, a conservative estimate of the money a hospital spends indirect recruitment costs related to a turn-over is $10,000. Building a robust recruitment strategy that is backed by the same fervor of retention efforts can help eliminate the need for this expenditure.

Why National Nurses Week is the Perfect Opportunity to Utilize Your Strategy

During National Nurses Week, employers take the time to celebrate their nursing staff and recognize the hard job they have. Many times, the best recruitments strategies come down to which hospital showed they were the most invested in their employees. That’s why utilizing National Nurses Week in your recruitment strategy can be so helpful – your current employees have a lot to say in the matter.

While 70% of nurses surveyed in Nurse.com’s salary survey said that salary was of utmost importance for job satisfaction, money wasn’t everything. And salary didn’t just mean the dollars they took home. A high salary may look enticing, but cost-of-living has to be factored in as well. Indeed.com surveyed nurses as well, according to their data, scheduling flexibility and work-life balance often took priority over salary. They also reported that 26% of nurses with existing jobs say they’re contacted weekly by recruiters. Standing out from the competition is a must.

With the market as competitive as it is, healthcare organizations need to find new and unique ways to recruit potential hires. National Nurses Week allows you to highlight what makes working for your facility so outstanding. Below are some options for using this week of recognition to help recruit new talent.

Get Personal

When you begin highlighting your open positions via job boards, mass emails, and other techniques, consider the impersonal nature of such strategies. Rather than sending the same form email to all 50 candidates, personalize each with a message related to National Nurses Week. Contact them to show appreciation, maybe including a discount, freebie, or invite to an event you’re holding. You may also want to point out why they’d be a good fit, using specific reasons that stood out to you during the interview process. Tout their potential and offerings, not yours, during this exchange, and you’ll show them that you’re already a step ahead of the competition.

Show, Don’t Just Tell

Part of the promise is what comes of it. Make sure that you are following up on your promises that you make to your potential hires. Give them proof that you’ve been faithful to your word. Perhaps having special nurse week marketing materials that showcase happy employees talking about what is best about your hospital or having a coffee hour each day where a satisfied family comes in and tells about a nurse at your facility that stood out. The more good publicity you can get from happy patients and current staff, the better it looks. Of course, please don’t force it or coerce it in any way, because doing so will come out and backfire.

Let the Data Drive You

One of the smartest things you can do when it comes to hiring is to defer to the data. Not only by doing your research on how things historically go, but by collecting some data of your own. Asking your potential hires questions regarding why they did or didn’t choose your hospital, which recruitment strategy enticed them the most, and even how they prefer to find a job can all be a great source of information to help drive your recruitment strategies. Involving your potential hires and current nurses can also lead to more trust, as it creates a feeling of being heard and valued, which is a trait that many employees look for in a job.

National Nurses Week is an excellent time to implement this. Along with a note of appreciation to each nurse, include a survey with some of these questions and then a section asking how you can make their job better as well as how you can continue to show your appreciation. Consider incentivizing the return of the survey by making it anonymous or adding a gift upon completion. You can even send these surveys along to student nursing programs, giving the students a personal one-on-one invite to tour your hospital or shadow a nurse for a day. Former nursing staff in good standing could also get a survey asking why they left and letting them know you appreciate them and are remembering them during this week.

Your Existing Nursing Staff Should Not Be Overlooked

Letting your nurses know they are appreciated should be a daily occurrence, but during National Nurses Week, it can be especially helpful. Your existing nursing staff is one of the best ways to find new nurses. If they are happy, they will be more likely to recommend an open position to a friend. This is even more true for traveling nurses who may encounter unhappy employees on their journeys. Be sure to treat them just like the long-term staff and find a way to recognize them as well. Consider treating your nurses to some bonus activities during the week, such as a free meal. If you decide to have events during the week, invite the nurses’ families. And remind them how to care for themselves to maintain a positive work-life balance.

Open Your Doors to New Hires

Having an event during National Nurses Week that is part job-fair and part celebration can go a long way with nursing students and potential hires. Give them an inside look into what working for your hospital would look like. Treat each person as if you are genuinely invested in their success by helping them take steps toward getting their first program acceptance or new job. Along with inviting them in for a tour, give them a chance to meet some of the staff they would be working with, including nurses, management, and doctors. Provide a photographer that can take free headshots for their portfolios. Don’t focus on pushing your recruitment strategy and instead let each person walk away with a booklet that covers the approach along with other relevant information about your hospital. If you impress them upfront, the brochure will be the icing on the cake.

Put Out a Press Release

National Nurses Week is the perfect time to announce something new your program is offering or doing. Recently, the news was released that the US Senate vowed to strengthen academic nursing. They were strategic in announcing it during National Nurses Week. Why? Because nurses are paying attention. It’s their week of recognition, and more news comes across their desk that they might want to pay attention to between those discounts and freebie offers that also inevitably come.

Take a Page from the Book of Success

Ideas abound for how to make an impression on potential candidates. If you’re looking for fresh nursing talent and you’re willing to invest in them early, why not take a page out of Western Governors University’s book? To celebrate National Nurses Week in 2016, they awarded scholarships to nurses across the nation. Your program could offer this to student nurses as well as tenured nurses looking to advance in their careers by going back to school.

A Call to Action: Begin Today

Increasing your chances of attracting top nursing talent takes a focus on your potential hire’s best interests. What do they want? Professional development, flexibility, work-life balance, unique perks, fair pair, tuition assistance, and other such incentives go a long way. Taking a personalized approach and showing how much your facility values its nursing staff will attract more potential hires than you expect. It’s easy enough to implement that you can begin right now. The key is to make sure you continue appreciating your nurses every day of the year, as well. For more information on supporting your staff, nurses, or other departments, see our extensive library of published resources that are designed for those in the healthcare field. 

Resources:
  1. https://www.afscme.org/news/publications/health-care/solving-the-nursing-shortage/the-cost-of-failure
  2. https://www.nurse.com/blog/Salary-Report?utm_source=resource%20guide&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=healthcare-salaries-guide&utm_content=2018
  3. https://www.nurse.com/blog/2017/08/07/nurse-salary-is-only-part-of-the-pie/
  4. http://blog.indeed.com/2019/05/06/how-to-recruit-nurses/
  5. https://www.glassdoor.com/research/studies/why-do-workers-quit/
  6. http://amnhealthcare.investorroom.com/2018-05-08-National-Nurses-Week-AMN-Healthcare-Commitment-to-Excellence-Awards-Recognize-Importance-of-Travel-Nurses-to-Patient-Care
  7. https://dailynurse.com/great-ways-to-care-for-yourself-during-national-nurses-week/
  8. https://dailynurse.com/us-senate-vows-to-strengthen-academic-nursing-during-national-nurses-week/
  9. https://fox8.com/2019/05/05/discounts-freebies-offered-during-national-nurses-week/amp/
  10. https://dailynurse.com/western-governors-university-celebrates-national-nurses-week-offering-125-scholarships-totaling-250000-nurses-across-nation/
  11. https://www.springerpub.com/
Students, Retirees, and School Nurses Pitch In to Fight COVID-19

Students, Retirees, and School Nurses Pitch In to Fight COVID-19

Nursing students, nursing schools, school nurses grounded after school closures, and retired nurses are all joining the fight against the rising pandemic.

Here are just a few examples to be found across the United States:

Jackson, Mississippi

Seniors at Belhaven’s School of Nursing are performing community outreach and educating the public on how to protect themselves and others from the virus. Students are teaching infection-control techniques, discussed sanitation practices with the college’s operations team, and have posted instructions in campus dorms on maintaining safe hygiene. Senior Rebecca Rylander tells Jackson’s WJTV, “There is a desperate need for healthcare workers amidst this pandemic, and I want to help fill that need.”

Long Island, New York

At nursing and medical programs in Long Island, students barred from immediate contact with patients are playing an active role behind the scenes and on the front lines. While medical students at the Renaissance School of Medicine in Stonybrook are conducting online research and serving patients via telehealth sessions, the Barbara H. Hagan School of Nursing and Health Sciences tells Newsday that they have “alumni, graduate students and faculty working in emergency rooms and testing sites, and undergraduates are working or volunteering as nursing assistants.”

Darien, Connecticut

School nurses have volunteered at Darien High School’s COVID-19 testing station. Lisa Grant, a school district nurse at Hindley School, said “We had been asking our director what we can do to help so when Darien signed up for a site, we volunteered.” Yvonne Dempsey, of Ox Ridge School was also ready to help out. Dempsey told the Darien Times, “As nurses, we put ourselves out there any way we can. I figured that’s something I can do in my free time with the schools closed.” She adds, “Testing is the key — testing and isolation as much as possible is the only way to stop the spread.”

Framingham, Massachusetts, Caldwell, New Jersey, and elsewhere

In response to calls from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing faculty at colleges, universities, and community colleges are rushing to donate supplies of everything from masks to isolation gowns, to hand sanitizer. “This is a time when we all need to come together as a community and work cooperatively to fight this pandemic for the health and safety of everyone,” MassBay Community College President David Podell told the Framingham Source. Jennifer Rhodes, DNP, a faculty member at Caldwell University’s School of Nursing and Public Health, remarked, “As a former emergency room nurse, I cannot imagine what they are experiencing on the front lines right now.”

Chapman, Nebraska

Retired nurses are also answering individual states’ call for help. Nebraska TV spoke to 61-year-old Mary Steiner, a former emergency response nurse, has volunteered for the Central Nebraska Reserve Core. As she waits to put to use her training in natural disaster and emergency preparedness, Mary remarks, “If it’s something that becomes as serious as what’s going on in New York City right now… They’re wanting all hands on deck and so regardless of what my workplace setting has been in the past I know they’re going to be able to use me.”

5 Ways to Stay Well While Working From Home

5 Ways to Stay Well While Working From Home

While you’re confined to working or studying full-time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to take measures to maintain your health and well-being. Here are five tips from Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, co-editor of Evidence-Based Leadership, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Nursing and Healthcare, to help you stay well in this era of isolation and social distancing:

1 – Guard your sleep by keeping a regular schedule

Set a regular schedule for getting up and going to sleep. It’s ideal to continue to get up and go to bed at the same time as you would if you were still going in to the office. Also keep in mind that stress takes a toll on your body; you may need more sleep than usual, and that’s okay.

2 – Eat Healthy

You now have more access to your food supply than you would in your office, so be conscious about how and what you are eating. Remember the 80/20 rule – 80% healthy foods and 20% “want” foods. It can be easy to fall into the pattern of grabbing a little food every time you are in the kitchen, but those little nibbles can pile on a lot of extra calories. Instead, set yourself regular snack times and have a healthy snack, such as piece of fruit, a lowfat yogurt or a cup of popcorn. Drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day, as even slight dehydration can make you feel tired.

3 – Beware of the Chair!

It’s important not to sit for long periods of time as it is not only good for your heart health, but it drains your energy. Try getting up and moving around once an hour to sustain your energy throughout the day. Put on some music and dance for 10 minutes, lift weights or household objects, walk up and down the stairs or take a quick wellness walk outside. If you’re home with your children, ask them to join you. You can construct a standing desk at home by piling up books or putting your laptop on a low stool on top of a table.

4 – Shed Stress Regularly

Instead of waiting until work time is over, try to release stress regularly throughout the day so that it doesn’t build up and wear you out. Try a five-minute meditation, take five slow deep breaths at regular intervals throughout the day or write in a journal about what is on your mind. Start each day by counting a few people or things you are grateful for and read five minutes in a positive thinking book. This “me” time will help you be more present for others. If you are stressed or anxious to the point that it is starting to interfere with your functioning, reach out to your healthcare provider or employee assistance program.

5 – Monitor your social wellness

Feeling isolated? Miss talking to people? Pick up the phone and call a coworker instead of sending an email. Have a virtual lunch with a friend. Don’t wait until feelings of loneliness become overwhelming—try to get a little “social time” by video conference or phone every day after work so that you can keep your spirits up.

Finally, remain vigilant in working to help prevent the spread of infection. Follow CDC guidelines for washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, maintain physical distance from others and do your part to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

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