BCEN continues on our tour this year visiting organizations that demonstrate strong support for their nurses and specialty nursing certification. In June, we had the pleasure of meeting with the leaders and staff at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. This facility is beautiful with gorgeous views of the Nevada mountains. Even more spectacular is the work happening inside!
Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by Chief Nursing Officer Anna Anders, MSN, RN, CENP and Emergency Services Director Dustin Bass, MHA, BSN, RN, CEN. As we toured the emergency department, Anna and Dustin talked about how proud they are of their staff and the high degree of ownership they have come to appreciate from their nursing teams. Anna told us “Supporting specialty certification leads to more nurse ownership and problem solving. We are able to accomplish so much!”
We heard first hand from one of the nurses who demonstrates this “ownership” we are referencing. Lavonne Lambert, BSN, RN, staff nurse, is currently spearheading a certification effort in the emergency department. Lavonne, who will sit for her Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN®) exam soon told us that her skills are put to the test daily. She explained that Carson Tahoe RMC is one of the few options for those in need of care for many miles and you never know what may be coming through the door. Lavonne intends to be prepared to handle anything. She says “The CEN credential will help ensure that I am at the top of my game.”
While Carson Tahoe’s emergency nursing staff are currently at 46% certified, Lavonne and four others want to sit for the exam. Lavonne researched the BCEN website and discovered the employer program where multiple exams can be purchased at a cost savings to the organization. She created a presentation outlining the value proposition and cost and presented it to the hospital’s Ladies Auxiliary. Lavonne’s presentation was very well received, and she was able to get funding for five exams, practice exams and other study materials. Lavonne shared that she felt a tremendous sense of pride in securing this funding for the team.
Lavonne’s story is an impressive example of nurse ownership. But the story does not stop there. The Foundation Development Officer at Carson Tahoe, Amy Hyne-Sutherland is working with nursing leadership to further promote and support nurses to achieve specialty certification. Recently, a friend of the hospital donated funds to be directed to nursing education allowing nursing leadership to make the decision to support specialty certification for all areas. This hospital wide initiative will allow nurses to apply for financial support for both exam and study material fees. We know that anxiety over preparation and cost are top barriers to certification. Carson Tahoe RMC has removed those barriers for their nurses. Once nurses successfully achieve specialty certification, Carson Tahoe provides a 2.5% increase to their salary.
But that’s not all! Dustin Bass, MHA, BSN, RN, CEN, Emergency Services Director says “I want people to be proud of what they are doing every day and to be confident in their knowledge.” Dustin is a big supporter of specialty certification and describes efforts to provide education to nurses by involving multiple disciplines. Several times per year the emergency department team members gather at one of the physician’s houses. Food is catered, and relevant topics are reviewed, many of which are applicable to achieving and maintaining certification. Not only does this gathering result in increased knowledge, there is also a boost to collaboration, communication and working relationships.
There is little doubt that Carson Tahoe boasts a strong nursing leadership team and supporting their nurses has yielded many positives. Over the past two years, with Dustin’s leadership style, engagement in the Emergency Department has skyrocketed from 20% to 89%. Turnover is very low and patient satisfaction scores are continually on the rise. Well done Carson Tahoe!