Why become certified? Skill, confidence & patient advocacy, say nurses

We have nurses practicing in care settings across Fairview who have chosen to expand and deepen their skills through professional certification.

“Fairview nurses are committed to providing quality care to our patients,” says Karen Whiley, vice president patient care and chief nursing officer, Fairview Northland Medical Center in Princeton.

Sarah Akerson, RNC, uses knowledge garnered from her Low Risk Neonatal Certification while working in Fairview Southdale Hospital’s NICU.

“Certifications enhance nurses’ ability to provide excellent care as they become experts in their specialties.”

Many of our nurses have gone the extra mile for our patients by becoming certified—a voluntary, rigorous learning process to show proficiency in a nursing specialty.

Why do they do it? In honor of National Certified Nurses Day, which was March 19, several certified nurses share how certification has enhanced their nursing skills and ability to care for patients.

Dig deeper into a specialty

When Sarah Akerson, certified registered nurse (RNC), joined Fairview Southdale Hospital’s NICU team in 2005, she had several years of nursing experience from previous Fairview teams. But she was new to the NICU and wanted to learn more.

So she earned a Low Risk Neonatal Certification in 2008.

“When you first start at a job, you get a lot of hands-on training but you’re also focusing on things like team routines. So it may take you a long time before you ever experience your first unusual case,” says Sarah.

“Certification gave me a more in-depth look at what’s normal in skin conditions, what’s rare and what to look for when you’re assessing the baby.”

With her manager’s support, she took a three-day course, along with some self-directed study and tested for the certification.

“My nursing education was great but it’s very foundational. I think you learn a lot of this after working for years in the field,” says Sarah.

“But when you’re new, it’s nice to have all of that knowledge gained through certification readily available.”

Become a resource to others

Sue Perkins has been a nurse for four years on Unit 5A on University of Minnesota Medical Center’s – East Bank. During that time, she’s already earned two certifications: Medical Surgical and Pain Management.

“I love to learn and be knowledgeable and confident in my nursing care,” says Sue.

“Where I work, there’s a wide variety of patients who have a lot of diverse issues going on. I wanted to have a good understanding of questions I should be asking and conditions I should look out for [on behalf of my patients].”

Sue spent six months studying for the exam and passed it in June 2012, then earned her Pain Management Certification a year later.

Education programs don’t always focus a great deal on pain management, says Sue, so she’s happy she can be a resource to colleagues on this topic.

“My nurse manager strongly supports nursing certification, and there are several other people currently studying for exams. I feel strongly that Fairview supports me in this study.”

Gain pride and knowledge

Ivy Burggraf, RN, patient care manager in the Fairview Range ICU, has held her Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification for 23 years and Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (CLNC) certification for five years.

“I feel the knowledge of having the certification of Adult Critical Care Registered Nurse has given me the recognition of being a leader among my peers here at Fairview Range,” says Ivy.

“I think nurses who pursue certifications feel pride in their place of work. They want to know more and learn more to provide the best care possible for their patients.”

Help patients navigate the system

Nicole Eklund, RN, Fairview Health Network care coordinator, who works at our Fairview Clinics in Fridley, Pine City, Rush City and North Branch, earned her Nursing Case Management certification in August 2012.

“Having this certification has enhanced my nursing skills by giving me a broader knowledge base for my assessment skills on what patients and families need,” says Nicole.

“It’s also enhanced my collaboration skills and being able help patients navigate through the health care system as a whole.”

Our certified nurses’ skills even reach directly into our patients’ homes. All 118 home care nurses from Fairview Home Care and Hospice are certified in chronic care management.

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