1. Hughes, Michele M. MSN, RN, ACNP, ONP-C

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Holding a certification in a specialty area continues to carry a significant and long-held intrinsic value and motivation for the individual nurse. Many nurses have told me that becoming certified gave them a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement. Personal gain is a great motivator and there are now more extrinsic factors encouraging nurses to become certified. With the many changes toward more consumer-driven healthcare, our patients are asking informed questions about our education, our certifications, and our competence. Having a certification in orthopaedic nursing represents a certain level of knowledge and a commitment to lifelong learning. This leads to better patient care and safety and increases the nurses' professional credibility among colleagues and patients.

Michele M. Hughes, M... - Click to enlarge in new windowMichele M. Hughes, MSN, RN, ACNP, ONP-C

As the President of the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board, I know how important certification is to orthoapeadic nurses and to our orthopaedic patients. Because of this, ONCB has continued to meet rigorous standards of quality and excellence in its operations and examination maintenance. ONCB has been granted reaccreditation for its ONC examination and recently received its initial accreditation for both the ONP-C and OCNS-C examinations. This accreditation is good for 5 years and represents a valid and reliable testing process with structures in place that meet and even exceed the standards of test administration from legal, regulatory, and association management perspectives. Our vision is that orthopaedic nursing certification is the standard of knowledge and excellence in musculoskeletal healthcare. Maintaining this accreditation is vital to the ONCB mission and vision.


These are exciting times and as the demand for specialty certification rises, ONCB has a responsibility to meet the needs of our testing applicants and certificants. To make the certification process more convenient for our test candidates, beginning in January 2013, we moved from offering the examinations only during specific testing windows to offering them all year long. The online application makes the process quick and easy. Since our move to computer-based testing, our online practice modules, or self-assessment examinations, have become very popular among new test takers. These modules cover a variety of orthopaedic topics and mimic the look and feel of the actual testing environment-a definite benefit when the testing day arrives.


Some of our most exciting improvements are designed to benefit our current certificants. Once certified, the task of obtaining meaningful and pertinent continuing education credits begins. ONCB has been providing free access to LearningBuilder to all certificant holders since 2011. LearningBuilder is an online program where certificants can create an account to upload and maintain all continuing education credits, complete the recertification application submission, and streamline the audit process for recertification. We will continue to accept paper applications for recertification, but beginning in 2014, there will be an increased fee if done on paper instead of online through LearningBuilder.


Also beginning in 2014, certificants will need to complete the learning needs self-assessment that can easily be done through LeaningBuilder. As lifelong learners, certificants need to anticipate their educational needs and aim to obtain education on desired topics. While no punitive action is taken if a certificant is unable to attend or locate the preferred education, this proactive planning is a means of self-monitoring of quality and up-to-date continuing education. Through the documentation of this process, the certified nurse can demonstrate continuing competence. ONCB believes that continuing competence is the ongoing professional responsibility of an orthopaedic nurse to obtain, integrate, and apply current knowledge and skills required to practice safely, effectively, and ethically in designated roles and settings.


ONCB has been hard at work to better serve our testing candidates and certificants. The board comprises volunteer certificants who provide strategic oversight over the ONCB mission. If you want to get involved, grow professionally, and continue the forward movement of orthopaedic nursing certification, we have opportunities for you. ONCB is seeking nominations for two director vacancies in 2014. The 3-year term for each new director will begin at the conclusion of NAON's Annual Congress in Las Vegas, with the appointees invited to attend the ONCB meeting on Wednesday, May 21, as part of their orientation to the role. Director application packets can be found on the ONCB Web site and are due by February 1, 2014. We invite interested candidates who are orthopaedic-certified and have competencies in leadership to self-nominate.