1. Alexander, Mary MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN

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I'm proud to have been in the first class of CRNI(R)s-those of us who took the Certified Registered Nurse Infusion exam on March 23, 1985. At the time, I was a member of the IV team at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. I have vivid memories of the entire process. Six of us decided to take the exam and formed a study group. We reviewed the tapes, did practice tests, and quizzed each other from the Core Curriculum for Intravenous Nursing. In fact, I remember sitting in the audience in a Cambridge hotel when the first CRNI(R) study tapes were produced; they were 8-track cartridges.

Figure. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN

After taking the exam at Emmanuel College, we "celebrated" by having lunch together. Of course, the topic of conversation was the exam. How was it that in recalling the questions, we had 6 different answers? The format-then as it is now-included 4 choices for each answer!! Then we had to wait 8 weeks for our results, unlike today, when CRNI(R) candidates receive their scores immediately after completing the exam. I'm happy to report we all passed.


As the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation (INCC) celebrates the 25th anniversary of the CRNI(R) credential, I look back with pride at the outstanding achievements of the INCC RN Examination Councils and Boards of Directors. The RN Examination Council works with INCC's testing agency, Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP), to develop the CRNI(R) exam. They review, rewrite, and approve all questions for the exam, ensuring that the questions in each category meet a detailed content outline. Over the 25 years that the CRNI(R) exam has been administered, the RN Exam Council has incorporated into it many advances in infusion therapy as well as the increasing responsibilities of the infusion nurse.


The INCC Boards of Directors have overseen a great deal of change and progress in the area of nursing certification. Recognizing the importance that research plays in determining the benefits and outcomes of specialty nursing certification, INCC has participated in several research projects with others in the certification community. After much preparation, the pencil-and-paper exam was replaced by a computer-based exam in September 2006. The number of test sites was increased, Saturday test dates were added, and a March exam was offered in addition to the September exam. The INCC Boards have also approved a number of different paths for CRNI(R)s to earn recertification units in order to maintain their credentials.


I cannot overstate the importance of becoming a certified infusion nurse. The CRNI(R) designation refers to an earned credential that demonstrates the holder's specialized knowledge, skills, and experience. It really does "validate your experience" and demonstrates to your organization and your patients your commitment to continuing education and professional advancement. In fact, a study by the American Board of Nursing Specialties found that certification empowers nurses. The study showed that benefits include job satisfaction, personal achievement, validation of knowledge, job challenges, and increased compensation.1


Over the years, INS and INCC have received many queries about organizations that offer certificates for completing an educational program. Is it the same as INCC certification? No, it isn't. Certificate programs are usually open to anyone who applies, and they are geared toward obtaining specific skills or knowledge. They do not award a credential. The CRNI(R) is the only nationally approved certification in infusion therapy. The CRNI(R) exam is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC), an independent organization that sets rigorous standards for the accreditation of specialty nursing certifications and advocates for consumer protection.


We just celebrated Certified Nurses Day(TM) on March 19, a day to honor the contributions of board-certified nurses to the advancement of nursing professionalism and to higher standards and better outcomes in patient health. March 19 was chosen as the day to celebrate because it's the birthday of Margretta "Gretta" Madden Styles, considered the "Mother of Nurse Credentialing," and a driving force behind the creation of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Certified Nurses Day honors Dr. Styles' legacy by celebrating her work in credentialing and its contribution to better patient outcomes globally.


While specialty nursing certification yields benefits for the certified nurses, INCC's primary goal is and continues to be public protection. We are committed to ensuring that the CRNI(R) exam reflects current infusion nursing practice, and is legally defensible and psychometrically sound. Let's recognize the accomplishments of our certified nurse colleagues and encourage those not certified to pursue it. Celebrate this mark of excellence, the CRNI(R) credential, for the next 25 years and beyond!!


Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN


INS Chief Executive Officer Editor, Journal of Infusion Nursing




1. American Board of Nursing Specialties. Specialty nursing certification: nurses' perceptions, values and behaviors. Accessed January 20, 2010. [Context Link]