Certification Champions

Certified Success: Certified Nurses Celebrated at The University of Kansas Medical Center

Certified Nurses Day is a big deal for the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) where we are passionate about specialty nursing certification and the numerous benefits it yields to nurses, organizations and most importantly, patients. This year during Certified Nurses Week, BCEN had the good fortune to visit The University of Kansas Health System (TUKHS) and learn how specialty certification is supported from the top down.

TUKHS is a Magnet recognized facility boasting many awards and accolades such as being named the best hospital, both in Kansas City and in the state of Kansas and recognized on the US News and World’s Best Hospitals list.  One of the secrets to their success is the value and support they place on nursing. During my visit, I toured the Emergency and Trauma departments and spoke to many nurses and other care providers. I met nurses who were already board certified and some who were still on their certification journey. It was very clear the nurses all had tremendous pride in and respect for their work place. If they were already certified, they talked about how proud they were of it. Those not yet certified talked definitively about their plan to obtain certification. It was very clear to me that certification matters to TUKHS and to their nurses.

Specialty certification is a priority at the highest level at TUKHS and every department has support from top leadership, department leadership and from their very own Magnet Coordinator, Jennifer McNiel.  Jennifer explained that each fiscal year certification goals are set for each unit to increase or maintain their certification rates. From there, Jennifer works diligently with each department to help them achieve their certification goals. TUKHS supports nurses by encouraging them on their certification journey, supplying resources for preparation, and providing additional financial incentives once they successfully certify. Those wanting to advance at TUKHS are often considered more favorably than their non-certified peers.

Certified nurses are celebrated year-round but specifically on Certified Nurses Day, thank you cards containing a certification pin are mailed to the homes of each certified nurse. The pins are worn proudly and visibly by all certified nurses. In the Emergency Department, for example, there is a wall of fame with pictures of the nurses who have achieved and maintained their specialty certification. The hospital prints large posters that are on display throughout the facility that depict how many certified nurses TUKHS has and what specialties they represent. There are 1,441 nursing certifications representing 90 different specialties. Very impressive indeed. In the Emergency Department, the certification rate is currently 34% and growing.

I had the opportunity to speak to Gretchen Brown, BSN, RN, CEN, Emergency Department Nursing Supervisor. Gretchen says, “patients who receive care from certified nurses are in the best hands because the nurse has validated their knowledge through board certification.” Gretchen says there is a confidence that certified nurses have that allows them to provide excellent care. It is Gretchen’s goal to have all nurses working in the emergency department become certified. She is well on the way!