Emergency Department Clinical Nurse Specialist
Highland Hospital – A Member of Alameda Health System
“I like learning.”
It is a simple statement, but the excited and impassioned tone of Janis Farnholtz-Provinse, MS, RN, CNS, CEN, TCRN, makes it evident that she really means it.
Farnholtz-Provinse (left) has been working at Highland Hospital in the Emergency Department since 1994, achieving her Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN®) certification in 1995. She received her Master of Science degree from the University of California San Francisco, with a double major in critical care trauma and cardiovascular nursing, and a minor in education.
In previous positions, Farnholtz-Provinse worked in the ICU as a flight nurse, during which time she held both Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) and Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN®) certifications. However, Farnholtz-Provinse knew all along that the ED is where she wanted to work. The self-described “adrenaline junkie” said she enjoys the fast-paced environment because it not only provides her with new challenges but also new learning opportunities every workday.
“My coworkers and I like to joke that one year at [Highland Hospital] is like a dog year because of how much you learn and grow in such a short amount of time,” she said.
Farnholtz-Provinse, who is the daughter of two teachers, believes that learning for her own benefit and helping to educate others on its importance go hand-in-hand.
“Being a lifelong learner is what nursing is all about. In this fast-paced profession, things change so quickly and you have to stay on top of the newest information and updates. It is almost impossible to keep up if you are not staying on top of your own learning, so I try to encourage everyone to achieve certification,” she said.
Her minor in education has served her well in this regard. In her position as Clinical Nurse Specialist, she often organizes various courses and study sessions for ED nurses interested in becoming certified.
Farnholtz-Provinse fosters this environment of education and learning in her department by “meeting people where they are” in terms of learning styles by providing students with different possibilities for studying. She recognizes the importance of having options because when she was a new graduate from the nursing program and studying for certification exams, she found that working in a hands-on group setting was the best environment for her.
In order to find the best learning environment for her students, she developed a nine-week CEN and TCRN® study course done in a “flipped-classroom” style, in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Farnholtz-Provinse provides online module homework for the first three weeks, and then meets with students in the fourth week for two hours for hands-on, practical training to cement the knowledge.
“I try to be as flexible as possible and offer as many learning opportunities as I can. When people see the plan mapped out in front of them, it gives them a better sense of what to expect and makes them realize that certification is definitely achievable,” she said.
This course has proven to be extremely successful for those seeking certification. Since 2015, the number of CEN and TCRN certified nurses has increased from 16 to 40 – and all who have taken the exams have successfully passed on the first try.
In order to keep encouraging certification within the emergency department, Farnholtz-Provinse ensures that nurses are recognized every year on March 19 for Certified Nurses Day, even going so far as to take it upon herself to purchase the first award plaque to promote CEN certified nurses. Each year, she sorts through the newest certified nurses to ensure their names are engraved on the plaque.
In addition to the commemorative inscriptions displayed for all to see, Farnholtz-Provinse has also purchased goodies each year for the nurses, including badge holders, pins or appliques, all indicating certification.
Farnholtz-Provinse said she is fortunate that Highland Hospital – which is currently on its way to achieving Magnet status and has a goal of achieving full departmental certification – has managerial staff who encourage celebrating the special day. In fact, this year, other departments within the hospital even chipped in funding to purchase over 40 fleece vests from BCEN to distribute to every certified nurse in the emergency department. She hopes the vests not only symbolize the dedication and pride that comes from being certified, but also encourages others to achieve their certification.
“Being certified has given me an edge up – I have a stronger knowledge base when working with patients in an emergency room setting. I want everyone to feel that same sense of confidence and I believe BCEN certification is the perfect way to achieve it.”