In August, BCEN continued our mission to visit Certification Champion hospitals. We had the good fortune to meet the team at The Valley Hospital (TVH) located in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Over the past year, this organization has increased their certification rate by 76%!
An increase of this magnitude takes a strong organizational commitment and top down support. Right away, we met Ann Marie Leichman, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Senior Vice President, Patient Care Services, Chief Nursing Officer who told us about “Destination Certification, the organization’s certification program.” Ann Marie told us she encourages certification throughout the organization because it is a way for nurses to demonstrate expertise in their field. Ann Marie feels so strongly about this that all leadership positions require specialty certification to ensure leaders are setting the example.
In order to help their nurses be successful, TVH puts considerable time and effort into helping their nurses prepare for the exam. Review courses are offered free of charge and the nurse educators send review questions each week. In addition, the hospital has a very generous tuition reimbursement program that can be used for exam preparation as well as the cost of the exam.
The Emergency Department Medical Director, Dr. Becker, along with his group, are also very supportive of specialty nursing certification. Dr. Becker provides education for the Emergency Department nurses on a monthly basis to include clinical topics that are important in day-to-day patient care as well as for exam preparation. Dr. Becker told us “Certified nurses make a difference, they understand the why behind the patient’s orders and contribute collegially to the care.”
As nurses successfully achieve specialty certification, TVH knows how to celebrate. The first wave of recognition comes in the form of a Publisher’s Clearing House celebration. The CNO and others from the leadership team, take balloons and a big cardboard check to the department the newly certified nurse is working in. The amount line on the check carries the word “PRICELESS”. This is a big deal. Next, the nurse is recognized in the hospital newsletter. The CNO proudly sends a congratulatory letter to their home. Certified nurses proudly wear a badge hang tag that lets everyone know they are certified. Above all, this year, each nurse holding a specialty certification receives a $2000.00 bonus on Certified Nurses Day™.
The benefits from this hard work are obvious. We talked with Derrick Lieb, DNP, MS-HCM, RN NEA-BC, HN-BC, who serves as the Emergency Department and Clinical Decision Unit Director. Derrick told us there is much excitement in his department around certification. As more nurses achieve specialty certification, it sparks interest in those who have not yet tackled it. Derrick also told us that patients are routinely asking about what a certified nurse is. This gives TVH an opportunity to discuss the high-quality nursing team that is in place and boosts community confidence.
TVH is a four-time Magnet Designee and has five-star designations from Healthgrades in sepsis and stroke recognition. Their Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is an A, and the Emergency Nurses Association awarded TVH ED with its Lantern Award for 2019 to 2021. The leaders at TVH told us they are certain the support of their nurses and achievement of specialty certification has played a big role in these outcomes. Ann Marie said it best, “Certified nurses demonstrate expertise and they are leaders who take ownership of their practice environments.” Well done Valley Hospital. Your support and hard work are paying off!