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NBCRNA Research Demonstrates Benefits of Longitudinal Assessment for Lifelong Learning

- Apr 22, 2024, 09:00 AM

Study finds CRNAs prefer longitudinal assessment as part of continued certification requirements  

The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) announces the publication of a pivotal research study in Practice Assessment, Research, and Evaluation. The study, Transforming Assessments of Clinician Knowledge: A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Traditional Standardized and Longitudinal Assessment Modalities, showcases the benefits of longitudinal assessment (LA) for the continued certification of healthcare professionals, particularly Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA).

LA is a continuous assessment format that allows healthcare professionals to demonstrate their knowledge and skills over time. Unlike traditional point-in-time assessments, LA fosters lifelong learning by offering continuous evaluation and providing immediate feedback to each response. It was developed to align with adult learning principles, which show that factors including a convenient learning platform, and learning through a repetitive experience to promote learning. This type of assessment also provides flexibility for busy healthcare professionals, as they can engage with the material at their own pace and time. 

The study, a controlled trial involving 1,000 CRNAs randomized into two conditions (the traditional CPCA and LA), found that on average, CRNAs preferred LA over a traditional assessment, and more CRNAs agreed that LA promoted lifelong learning. It also found LA to be more flexible and accommodating, and they agreed that the platform was easy to use and navigate. 

“CRNAs are held to the highest standards in the nursing profession, and continued certification is an integral part of their dedication to their patients,” said Tim Muckle, PhD, ICE-CCP lead researcher and Chief Assessment Officer at NBCRNA. “The results of this landmark study, the first of its kind, demonstrate how a shift to the LA assessment modality represents a significant opportunity to enhance the way we approach continuous learning for CRNAs and across healthcare.” 

Significantly, the study also demonstrated that LA is more conducive to lifelong learning. In the LA format, CRNAs received immediate and specific feedback to each question answered. At first, the mean score of the traditional assessment group exceeded that of the LA group. However, after scoring the LA group’s most recent responses which included previously administered questions that were originally answered incorrectly, the LA group’s scores were higher. This change over the course of the study shows the value of feedback and its impact on ongoing learning. 

“The findings from this research are critical to NBCRNA’s mission of promoting patient safety through lifelong learning for CRNAs. These findings also helped our Board of Directors to make the strategic decision to move our certification assessment component to an LA format,” said John C. Preston, DNSc, CRNA, APRN, FAANA, FNAP, FAAN Chief Executive Officer of NBCRNA. “At NBCRNA, we are committed to ensuring that CRNAs are equipped with the necessary tools to evaluate their anesthesia knowledge – and therefore provide the highest quality care for their patients.” 



The research study employed a randomized controlled trial design with 1,000 CRNAs, with half assigned to LA and half assigned to the traditional assessment. Over the course of a year, the researchers compared CRNAs’ performance, perceptions and user experiences on the traditional assessment, administered at a test center or online with remote proctoring, to the LA, which required answering quarterly questions online at any time. 

About NBCRNA  

The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) is the United States certifying body for the initial, continued and subspecialty certification of the more than 60,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). NBCRNA’s primary responsibility is to guard the well-being of the public by seeking to ensure that those who secure the CRNA credential have the necessary knowledge and skills to practice safely and effectively. NBCRNA accomplishes this mission through the development and implementation of credentialing programs that support lifelong learning among nurse anesthetists.