Skip to Main Content
Skip Navigation Links

Nursing Excellence

The Online Newsletter for Children's Nurses
e-Edition, Issue 4 

Diane CivielloMagnet Logo
The PICU's National Certification Journey

By Diane Civiello, BSN, MS, RN, NE-BC
Director, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

When the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) introduced the Pediatric Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification in the 1990s, a handful of the nurses in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Children’s Hospital Central California achieved this certification. In the past two years, with a renewed commitment to clinical leadership and to personal and professional accountability in our practices, we have quintupled the number of RNs in our unit who achieved their CCRN certification. In spring 2007, there were seven nurses holding this certification; we now have 38 certified staff. 

Several things converged to create the impetus for this change. The first was an organizational change to the requirement for maintaining/achieving RN IV status within the Clinical Advancement Program. Secondly, the newly formed Unit-Based Professional Development Council in the PICU, set a goal to apply for the Pediatric Beacon Award through the AACN. One of the standards to achieve this award is that 65 percent of staff must be CCRN certified. Therefore, this goal has been encouraged on a number of levels.

Increasing the number of nationally certified nurses has been and continues to be both a Hospital-wide and a PICU specific strategic goal. This past fiscal year we set a goal to increase national certifications by 40 percent and met this goal just after the fiscal year ended. This represents 45 percent of our current, eligible staff as certified. In moving closer to the 65 percent target of the Beacon Award, we are aiming to get six more nurses certified in the current fiscal year.

Patient Care Directors, Executive Directors and the Chief Nursing Officer led the way in achieving national certification; Nurse Executive, Board Certified (NE-BC) from American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). All of the PICU Charge Nurses have set national certification as a goal for their personal and professional development this year. The unit staff developed a core group of CCRNs who review the curriculum with the nurses preparing for their exam. This group began with one of our educators and a few staff nurses. The PICU sent three nurses to a pediatric critical care conference which also provided a CCRN study curriculum. As a result of their attendance, this group helped form a larger study network. The PICU Director was an active member of the study group as well.

A staff nurse on the Unit-based Professional Development Council volunteered to serve as the champion for the goal of increasing the number of nationally certified nurses. He studied and passed the exam and shared his journey with every nurse in the PICU. The nurse began by sharing what it represents and the value it adds to our PICU. He shared study materials – even purchasing books – and entered into verbal contracts with staff to follow through on their commitment to become certified. This nurse started sending congratulatory emails and distributed the good news throughout the PICU and is the first person staff call to share their success. At this juncture, the chair of the Unit-based Professional Development Council or designee, has taken over this process.

To further enhance the professional development of our staff, this same nurse has now tasked himself to send regular, thought provoking and insightful messages to his peers with the intention to promote reflective practice. He is enrolled in an educational master’s program and continues to raise the bar and model the behavior he hopes to enhance in our unit.

All staff names are displayed on a plaque once they have achieved certification. We are now on our third plaque which hangs with the others below the framed “CCRN Wall of Honor” banner. This was provided by one of our nurses who was involved in the study group and went beyond to engage others to become certified.

What began as a requirement for the Clinical Advancement Program has grown and blossomed into a professional outcome supporting the Beacon Award application process and an enhanced engagement of nurses in their own professional practice.

In This Issue

A Decade of Difference

National Certifications

The Benefits of Certification

A Journey to National Certification

A Vision for Advanced Respiratory Therapist Credentialing

The PICU's National Certification Journey

Working for a Living

Success - A Team Effort