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Certification in nursing is important for both individual clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and the nursing profession. For the individual CNS, certification is evidence of knowledge in a specialty domain of nursing. For the nursing profession, certification is a mark of autonomy.
Autonomous professions self-regulate by establishing a scope of practice, standards of practice, standards for professional performance, and practice competencies. Standards communicate expected practice norms and performance behaviors to the members. Standards also communicate expectations to the public. Professional certification, grounded in standards and competencies, validates that CNSs meet the standards established by the profession. Thus, certification exists in a web of interrelated rudiments that support a profession in fulfilling its obligation to society.
Professional certification for CNSs has changed over the last 10 years or so. Initially, certification was a hallmark of excellence. Eligibility requirements included completion of a graduate degree from a CNS program and successful practice as a CNS for a designated period of time. The time-in-role requirement assured that the candidate had sufficient experience to develop expertise. As states began recognizing CNSs through regulation, professional certification became one of the credentials state boards of nursing required as validation of CNS practice competencies. Certification eligibility requirements were changed; time-in-role is now included in graduate programs; the focus is on entry level competencies-not excellence. Computer-based testing options moved the examination procedure from a limited fixed schedule to year-round opportunity.
More changes are necessary to assure that CNSs have opportunities for professional certification. Currently, CNS specialty certifications are very limited compared with the many specialty practices of CNSs. The dominant mechanism for certification is psychometric examination. Certification examinations are expensive to develop and maintain and require large numbers of test takers to assure psychometric properties. Small specialties do not have adequate numbers of CNSs to meet the demands of psychometric examination. This situation presents both challenges and opportunities.
The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists is moving forward in partnership with professional-certifying organizations to greatly expand certification opportunities for CNSs. Portfolios, once viewed as subjective and labor intensive, can be streamlined, specialty focused, and objectively evaluated with the support of technological innovations. Specialty-focused portfolios can include peer review, case studies, continuing education, and other requirements that add depth and breath to the certification process. Portfolios can be combined with computer-based psychometric examinations for greater specificity. The possibilities are many.
Many are the possible mechanisms; however, the reason for certification remains the same. Certification is acknowledgment of individual competency grounded in professional standards and is witness to a self-regulating profession meeting its social mandate. Therein lays the value of certification for CNSs.
Watch for periodic updates in the journal as the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists moves forward with new and exciting opportunities for CNS certification. Share your ideas in a letter to the editor.
Once again the membership on the NACNS Board of Directors changed at the close of the NACNS conference. The Board said "thank you" and "good bye" to 2 Board members, Kathy Baldwin and Linda Urden. Kathy Baldwin served on the Board since 2003. She was President- Elect in 2004-2005 and President in 2005-2006. In addition, she served as co-Principal Investigator with Angela Clark on NACNS's 2-year Specialty Nursing Association Partners in Geriatrics grant. This past year, she was busy leading the CNS competency survey work. Kathy is an excellent leader who represented our association very well. Linda Urden served one term on the Board (2005-2007) and was conference cochair for 2 years (2006 and 2007) as well as Board liaison to the Membership Committee. The Board will miss Linda's excellent insight and knowledge.
Other Board members changed their positions from the past year into new roles. Kelly Goudreau left her position as President and now holds the position of Past President. Theresa Murray is our new President after serving 1 year as President-Elect. Sue Sendelbach moved from her position as Vice President after she was elected President- elect. Melanie Duffy is our new Vice President, moving from her position as a Director. Finally, the Board welcomes new Directors, Kathryn Brush and Patricia Foster. Following is a listing of all current Board members and their terms.
PRESIDENT Term-March 08, 2008 Theresa M. Murray RN, MSN, CCRN, CCNS
Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist
Community Health Network Indianapolis, Ind
VICE PRESIDENT Term-March 08, 2008 Melanie Duffy, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS
Pinnacle Health System Harrisburg, Pa
SECRETARY Term-March 08, 2008 Jane Walker, PhD, RN
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator
Purdue University Calumet Hammond, Ind
PRESIDENT-ELECT Term-March 08, 2008 Sue Ellen Sendelbach, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAHA
Clinical Nurse Researcher and Clinical Nurse Specialist
Abbott Northwestern Hospital Minneapolis, Mn
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Term-March 08, 2008 Kelly A. Goudreau, DSN, RN, CNS
Director of Education
Portland VA Medical Center Portland, Ore
TREASURER Term-March 08, 2008 Peggy Gerard, DNSc, RN
Professor and Dean, School of Nursing
MEMBER Term-March 08, 2009 Kathryn Ann Brush, MS, RN, CCRN, FCCM
Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, Mass
MEMBER Term-March 08, 2009 Susan Dresser, RN, MSN, CCRN, CNS
Deaconess Hospital Oklahoma City, Okla
MEMBER Term-March 08, 2008 Patricia Ebright, DNS, MSN, BSN
Indiana University School of Nursing, Department of Adult Health Indianapolis, Ind
MEMBER Term-March 08, 2008 Patricia Foster, MS, RN, APRN, CNS
Chandler Regional Hospital Chandler, AZ 85224
EX OFFICIO Janet S. Fulton, PhD, RN Associate Professor
Indiana University School of Nursing Indianapolis, Ind
STAFF Christine Carson Filipovich, MSN, RN
2090 Linglestown Rd, Suite 107 Harrisburg, PA 17110
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