Clinical Nurse Specialist Designed Certification Preparation Course

Monday, 9 November 2015

Jennifer L. Kitchens, MSN, BSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CVRN
Quality and Risk Management, Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis, IN, USA
Margie A. Hull, MEd, MSN, ACNS-BC, CDE, RN
Quality/Risk Management, Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Purpose: The purpose was to implement and evaluate an institutionally-based CNS-led medical-surgical preparation course in order to prepare its medical-surgical nurses to become certified. Significance: The CNS competencies provide a basis for a CNS-led medical-surgical preparation course. Nursing certification may have many benefits to organizations including improved nursing competence; confidence; patient care; promotion of professional growth; and reflection of knowledge and expertise in a specialty. Background: There is no formal medical-surgical certification preparation course at the institution. This course was requested by practicing medical-surgical nurses and organizational leadership. The approach to certification preparation was innovative by being institutionally-based for its own nurses eliminating cost of tuition and travel. Magnet recognition and career ladders elevate the importance of attaining nursing certifications. CNS facilitation of certification preparation courses has received little attention in the literature. Description: Two CNSs collaborated to implement and evaluate the medical-surgical certification preparation course by: planning each preparation session; advertising; developing novel instructional materials; acquiring study resources; fostering a safe learning environment; analyzing evaluation data; disseminating findings. Topics included in the review course were: navigating certification websites; identifying testable material; cultivating study skills; deciphering test questions; identifying perceived barriers to studying/learning; addressing known areas of weakness; decreasing test anxiety; test taking and study tips.  Participants’ knowledge was assessed by administering a 10-question pre- and post-test covering certification test content. The CNS-led medical-surgical certification preparation review course was evaluated by administering a CNS-designed Certification Preparation Course Survey consisting of a pre-(12 item) and post-survey(16 item) to assess overall course effectiveness. Outcomes:  The medical-surgical certification preparation course included five sessions(1.5 hours each) over a six-week period(n=6 nurses). Pre-test results were 38%; post-test results were 84%. The Certification Preparation Course Survey results were positive. For the survey item, “I plan to take the medical-surgical nursing certification exam”, results were yes(n=5) and maybe(n=1). Perceived degree of anxiousness when taking a test was measured using a 4-point Likert Scale(higher scores equaling more anxiety). Mean perceived anxiety scores were pre-(3.0) and post-survey(1.7). All participants reported learning additional content; content presented was valuable; presenters and teaching methods were effective; practice questions were beneficial; personal goals were attained; course expectations were met; the environment was conducive for learning. Interpretations: Results indicate a CNS-led medical-surgical certification preparation course was an effective approach to enhance knowledge about medical-surgical content.  Longitudinal evaluation strategies should assess overall cost-effectiveness and participants’ retention and use of knowledge.