A recent study demonstrated the effect of specialty training and certification on patient care and a hospital’s bottom line. Hospitals with nurses trained and certified in wound, ostomy and continence care had lower rates of hospital-acquired pressure injuries (2.81 percent, compared with 3.28 percent at hospitals without the specially trained nurses). What’s more, their risk of more severe pressure injuries was nearly half (.27 percent) that of hospitals that lacked nurses with wound, ostomy and continence care training and certification (0.51 percent).
With Medicare and Medicaid no longer reimbursing for the care of patients with hospital-acquired pressure injuries, avoiding them saves hospitals significant money. Care for hospital-acquired pressure injuries across U.S. hospitals is currently estimated to cost as much as $11.6 billion annually.
What made the difference? The study found hospitals that employed nurses specially trained and certified in wound, ostomy and continence care had better pressure injury risk assessment and prevention practices. The specialty training made the nurses better at identifying patients at particular risk and more adept at using interventions like pressure redistribution surfaces and nutritional support to keep pressure injuries at bay.
Studies like this illustrate the benefits of specialty training to patients and hospitals. But what about nurses? We can’t turn a blind eye to the reality that specialty training in any nursing area demands personal sacrifices of limited resources like time, energy and money. Nurses may—understandably— wonder, Is the investment worth it?
According to the nurses who recently spoke out about why they pursued specialty training and certification, the answer is yes. Here’s how they say the short-term sacrifice tends to play out over the long-term.
“I became certified to validate and enhance my current knowledge and to make sure that I was best prepared to provide the highest level of evidence-based care to my patients,” said Justin DiLibero, MSN, RN, CNS, CCRN, ACCNS-AG, clinical nurse specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, in an American Association of Critical-Care Nurses news release about the value of nursing certifications.
Going through specialty training provided personal payoff to DiLibero, who took pride in taking the extra step. It wasn’t until later that he realized his effort made a difference in the eyes of others.
“When my clinical nurse specialist presented me with a CCRN pin, that was the moment when I knew that my certification also mattered to others, including my colleagues and, most importantly, my patients,” he said.
As DiLibero pointed out, specialty training and certification can transform how colleagues and patients perceive you. The personal effort made to enhance your training and patient care, as well as the increased knowledge brought to the workplace overall, will likely generate new respect.
You may even encourage others to follow your lead. That served as motivation for Laura Diehl, BSN, RN, CCRN, shift coordinator, Indiana University Health-Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis.
“I decided to get certified because I’m on a unit where there are a lot of new graduates,” she said, “and, as one of the more experienced nurses, I wanted to be an example for them.”
SPECIALTY TRAINING MAKES NURSING MORE SATISFYING.
“We have this certification Wall of Fame, and they put all our certificates up there,” said Olinda Spitzer, RN, MSN, CNS, CCRN, a surgical unit nurse at HealthPark Medical Center, Fort Myers, FL. “The patients come around and say, ‘That’s my nurse,’ and you feel so proud. Every time somebody passes the test, there are congratulations, big banners, a pin to let them know, ‘We’re really proud of you.’
“But you’re really doing it for yourself,” she admitted, “for your own professional growth, to be the best you can be for you and your patients.”
Nothing is more satisfying than a job well done. Knowing you are providing top-notch, evidence-based care can make the day-to-day routine much more gratifying.
Finally, better prepared nurses often have more opportunities than other nurses.
“Employers value certification, and certification can lead to career advancements through clinical ladders or promotions,” said Lynn Orser, MSN, RN, PCCN, CCRN, critical care educator, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Specialty training and certification “may help a nurse survive staff cutbacks and be more competitive in the job market. It may also lead to a pay increase in some circumstances,” Lanette Anderson, RN, wrote in a piece on nursing specialty certification at nursetogether.com. “Certification can enhance the job opportunities which may be available. It may be seen by an employer as a demonstration of your determination to learn and grow professionally and your desire to improve your patient care skills.”
In short, specialty training and certification requires commitment on the part of the nurse pursuing it. But according to nurses who have been through it, the investment is worth it in the long run.
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