Sunday, October 24, 2010

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Certification in Nursing Professional Development

On October 22, 2010 I was sitting in a computer station at a testing center not far from my home. I was wearing a pair of yellow silencing headphones that I reluctantly put on my head to drown out the rapid keyboarding strikes made by the person in the adjacent compartment. I had just completed answering 175 questions on the ANCC certification examination on Nursing Professional Development.  What followed was the arduous task of reviewing those questions that I wasn’t 100% sure of my answers. The numbers on the digital countdown clock appeared to be elapsing more rapidly than I wanted. I could easily pick out two wrong distracters but there was always one choice in each set of questions that seemed sort of correct. I had to focus and just answer the questions. With 30 seconds to spare, I completed my final answer and lingered a moment before I clicked the submit button. I gathered up my driver’s license, locker key, two pencils and a paper booklet provided by the test center and checked out. The nice part about taking a computerized test is discovering the score almost immediately. With the paper and pencil tests, waiting for a confirmation of test scores used to take up to six-weeks. I approached the attendant who had to take three digital images each of my index fingers. My heart was pounding as I anxiously awaited my outcome. With little emotion, the man behind a large gray desk recited a set of instructions then printed out a piece of paper. He quickly embossed the document, signed it then unceremoniously handed it over to me. I glanced down at the paper and read the words, “Congratulations, You have passed…..” I felt relief, excitement and joy as I happily squealed, “I passed!”

ANCC board certification ensures that the nurse has “met strong professional standards”, measures professional competency (ANCC, 2010) and validates knowledge in the specialty. The National Nursing Staff Development Organization (NNSDO) also encourages credentialing. ANCC offers certification exams in approximately 42 nursing specialties. My institution encourages and promotes certification in addition to reimbursing for the exam fee (after successful passing) and providing a pay differential.  I previously held a certification in Nutrition Support. I decided that taking the exam in Nursing Professional Development was long overdue.

To sit for the exam, the candidate must meet with ANCC eligibility requirements. To prepare for the exam, I purchased a copy of the ANCC Nursing Review and Resource Manual for Nursing Professional Development. I also attended a review course offered by my health care system to every nurse educator. The ANCC site also offers sample test questions.  I found studying for the exam and attending the review course enriching to my professional practice. In particular, studying the various roles in nursing professional development that include; educator, leader, facilitator, change agent, consultant, and researcher gave me new perspective for my practice. I strongly recommend attaining certification.

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