In 2015, the NYSNA Board conducted a needs assessment with the stated purpose of hearing what concerns were front and center in the minds of members. NYSNA nurses responded, through surveys and workshop evaluations, that certification in their specialty areas was crucial and of paramount importance. Specialty certifications pay off not simply in dollars and cents but provide nurses with the opportunity to stay up to date on the array of advances in their areas of practice.
NYSNA moved swiftly to ensure that nurses knew their voices had been heard. Affordable and accessible specialty certification programs were made a top priority, including expansion into additional specialty areas. At the time, certification was available in Medical/Surgical, Critical Care and Inpatient Obstetrics, but the program needed to grow. The cost in 2015: $295 for a two-day course.
Responding to member needs
By January 2016, the cost for a NYSNA nurse to participate in a specialty certification program had been dramatically reduced — to a $25.00 materials fee! But even more to the nurses’ point, and based on member needs, NYSNA added more certification programs throughout the year. Now the NYSNA Board of Directors is pleased to report to our nurses: more than 21 specialty certification programs are available to our members for free ($25.00 fee excepted).
NYSNA does not want the conversation to stop here. The Board is encouraging our nurses to keep letting us know what’s important in terms of your education. We sent a survey to specialty certification program attendees, asking them to report back on how the courses have impacted their jobs. The reviews are glowing.
This is what we are hearing back from nurse-participants:
- more knowledgeable about different diagnoses;
- better prepared;
- inspired and motivated to study more;
- assessment skills have been sharpened;
- increased familiarity with disease processes not normally treated as well as a refresher on diseases typically seen;
- greater respect as a registered nurse on my unit;
- positive impact on patient care;
- making decisions based on new information taught in the course;
- encouraging peers to get certified by the end of the year;
- more confident in caring for my patients, feeling better able to create a patient-nurse rapport at the initial encounter; and
- applying the new information to my everyday practice!
Further, a convenience sample of 779 respondents found that more than 9 of every 10 course participants found the certification review courses very helpful in preparing to take and pass the certification with examination.
According to nurses who passed the exam in their respective specialty areas, the program reaps rewards in training and dollars and cents.
Christina Degaray and Olga Rabkin, ED nurses at Bellevue Hospital, are two members who took the Emergency Nurse Certification Review Course and passed the exam with flying colors. They attended the course together at the NYSNA Headquarters conference room. They were invigorated and inspired by all that they learned and confident in their mastery of the material when they sat for the certification exam. “The instructor was spot-on about how to prepare for the examination and taught us so much about Emergency Nursing,” Degaray said.
Degaray and Rabkin waxed enthusiastic about the results, encouraging colleagues to take the course. Four of their co-workers are now scheduled to sit for the test. “It was just great to bring my coworkers to the NYSNA Headquarters,” Degaray said. “Now they can see firsthand all that NYSNA offers to its members. Nurses cannot wait to take the examination. Once they pass and are certified, they will receive the same pay differential that I did!”
Carol Hackett, RN, Westchester Medical Center, agrees. She took the Medical/Surgical Certification Review Course in October 2016 at the NYSNA Westchester Office in Tarrytown — a location most convenient for her. “The instructor was awesome, well-prepared and the handouts and test questions provided were helpful. The course gave me a strong foundation for the examination, and I spent time doing practice questions as well. The workshop setting was great. Breakfast and lunch were available — a big plus,” Hackett said. “The course is helping me in my everyday practice. I am happy to be certified and it’s great to be recognized with the certification pay differential.”
Take the courses. Spread the word. Join the almost 3,000 NYSNA nurses who participated in the Certification Review Courses in 2016 and the hundreds of nurses who attended courses in January and February of this year. Go to www.nysna.org/nursing-practice/continuing-education/ to see all of the scheduled certification programs and to find the location nearest you. See you there!