Welcome to the premiere edition of NBCRNA News, the quarterly e-newsletter of the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). Our Board of Directors and staff hope you find these updates about our certification and recertification services useful and informative. In each edition, you will find the latest news from NBCRNA, perspectives on the field of nurse anesthesia from our Board members, and “need to know” updates about our programs and services. In this inaugural edition of the NBCRNA News I would like to address, to borrow a phrase from the journalism profession, the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the NBCRNA.
Who are the members of the NBCRNA Board of Directors?
The eight nurse anesthetist Directors of the NBCRNA are a microcosm of our profession. Four are full time practitioners with an average of 21 years of experience in multiple practice settings and four are educators; several of whom are actively involved in clinical practice. All are longtime members and supporters of our membership association, the AANA, and two have prior service as elected members of the AANA Board of Directors. All are volunteers and receive no compensation for the significant amount of time and effort they contribute on behalf of our profession’s commitment to protect the public we serve. They believe our objective, “promoting patient safety by enhancing provider quality”, is not merely a slogan but a guiding principle to be used as a yardstick for measuring our success in developing programs of certification and recertification that will have a positive, visible impact on public safety. Our public member is our sounding board for how the public in general and public organizations collectively view our responsibility to public safety and our commitment in word and deed to transparent processes that in fact enhance the public safety. I invite you read our public member’s insight
on how the public views our continued professional certification initiative; particularly his perspective on the interest of the patient being elevated above personal considerations. Finally, our anesthesiologist and surgeon members are vocal supporters of nurse anesthesia practice and provide us perspective on the success of our mission from the position of collaborator, consumer and competitor.
What exactly is the mission of the NBCRNA?
The mission of the NBCRNA is to promote patient safety through credentialing programs that support lifelong learning.
Why is lifelong learning such an important driver and component of the new NBCRNA recertification plan?
Although promoting patient safety has always been at the core of our mission, the application of a dynamic process of lifelong learning (in the form of Continued Professional Certification, CPC) including evaluating elements of knowledge and skill as a mechanism to achieve patient safety, is a significant departure from our 35 year-old static practice of simply obtaining 40 un-assessed continuing education credits every two years. There is ample literature available, and demand from the general public, public and private interest groups and governmental agencies, to support the move to a competency-based recertification process which includes assessed CE programs and re-examination at intervals in a practitioner’s career. Click here to view our reference list.
Stakeholders’ concern for public safety, whether that concern is a product of being an elected official, healthcare administrator, or a self-appointed interest group, is particularly acute when it comes to the provision of health care and the potential for injury at the hands of the “health care system.” Those stakeholders do not find a tiered system of recertification acceptable and want to be assured that all practitioners of a given specialty meet the same level of measured competence. Therefore, they do not support grandfathering of certain segments of a specialty. Our immediate competitors for anesthesia services, (anesthesiologists and anesthesia assistants) and most nurse practitioner groups have already migrated to a continued professional competence model, to include elements of assessed CE and examination. Therefore, the NBCRNA Board of Directors chose to be proactive, realizing that if nurse anesthetists do not drive this effort, someone will likely do it for us with the potential for an outcome that could be much less palatable.
How will the CPC Program and its component parts be developed?
In anticipation of the magnitude of the work required to develop all the components of the CPC Program, a new NBCRNA committee was established. The CPC Committee is chaired by a current Board member who is primarily responsible for management and oversight of four subcommittees: 1) competency module development; 2) recertification examination development; 3) defining assessed continuing education credit and professional activity units and; 4) developing reentry to practice requirements. Following a call for nurse anesthetist volunteers to participate in this work; we were pleased to receive 85 applications. Sixteen of these highly qualified applicants were selected by the Board to form the initial subcommittee working groups. We were quite successful in our goal to achieve diversity with respect to age, gender, race, geography, and experience. In our quest to produce a CPC Program designed by clinicians for clinicians our goal was to have a predominately clinician presence on the four subcommittees. We achieved that goal with a ratio of 70:30 clinician to educator. In addition, the NBCRNA Board of Directors agreed to a request by the AANA Board of Directors to accept an AANA appointee to each of the four subcommittees. During the month of October 2012, the Chair of the CPC Committee and the Chairs and members of the four subcommittees will meet to begin their work. As the work progresses and the processes and products are defined it is likely we will call on additional nurse anesthetists from our pool of applicants to assist in the work.
When will the CPC Program be initiated and what will the timeline for meeting the new requirements look like?
The recertification process will move from the current two year cycle to the four year cycle commencing in January 2016 for those who recertify in even years and in January 2017 for those who recertify in odd years. After recertifying under the old requirements in 2016 or 2017, you will begin to participate in the new CPC Program which will include completion of specific educational modules and acquisition of assessed CEs and professional activity units during each four year cycle. Within each eight year period starting with commencement of the CPC Program, you will take a recertification examination. The first of these exams, to be available between 2020 and 2024, will be used as a means to familiarize certificants with the testing format and method and to identify areas of weakness for future study. The second examination period, available between 2028 and 2032, will be a pass/fail examination with four opportunities to be successful. Click here to view our timetables.
Where is the NBCRNA located and how do I contact you?
The NBCRNA has relocated our office operations to 8725 West Higgins Road, Suite 525, Chicago, Illinois 60631. Our toll free number is (855) 285-4658. The fax number is (708) 669-7636. Click here for complete contact information.
In conjunction with this move we have a newly redesigned website and various social media accounts, all of which I hope you will visit and follow to keep up to date with NBCRNA.
Now that you know about us; what about you? What does the NBCRNA do for you, the certificant, and the stakeholders concerned with that certification? Here is a partial list of current contributions.
- As a certification and recertification organization we provide a means for anesthetists to demonstrate to their patients and other stakeholders that their competence has been externally validated by an organization with only patient safety in mind.
- We recently built the computer capacity to allow for CE credits accrued after you recertify but before the end of that recertification period to be carried over to the next recertification period and we are working on the ability to accept recertification credits on a “just in time” basis.
- We have made fiscally responsible decisions such as reducing our meeting budget and relocating our office operation in order to keep recertification costs to a minimum.
- We financially supported the AANA’s research supplement journal so that authors of research based manuscripts could disseminate that work more rapidly.
- We provide financial support each year to sponsorship and grants for affiliated organizations, individual anesthetists and students.
- We financed the student luncheon at the annual AANA meeting during which students learn about the ways the AANA, COA and NBCRNA contribute to the profession.
- We redesigned our web site to facilitate access to information and resources and initiated an e-bulletin to improve communication.
- We co-signed a letter with the AANA and COA to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in support of developing practice, educational and certification standards for pain management.
- We created a toolkit available on our website to provide information and resources for the CPC Program.
In closing, I want to reiterate that the NBCRNA Board of Directors and staff constantly strive to be recognized as the leaders in advance practice nurse credentialing by focusing on promoting patient safety. We consider the AANA Board of Directors and the membership to be our partners in this endeavor. Finally, I’d like to give a well-deserved, public thank you to the outgoing President of NBCRNA, Mary Anne Krogh, CRNA, PhD. Dr. Krogh served our Board during a period of great organizational transformation with committed leadership and a balanced perspective. She has dedicated a great amount of her time and energy to our profession and to ensuring the safety of the public. Thank you, Dr. Krogh.
Charles Vacchiano, PhD, CRNA, NBCRNA President