Document Type

DNP Project


School of Nursing

Date of Degree

Spring 2022


Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Primary Advisor

Dr. Majeda El-Banna PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF; Dr. Elzbieta Kmiecik DNP-EL, MSA, RN, CCRN-K


Certified Nurse Program


Background: Certification recognizes a nurse's specialized knowledge, skill, and expertise. It has been linked to positive patient, nurse, and organizational outcomes. Recognizing these advantages, the nursing department set a goal to increase certification rates. However, perceived barriers to certification existed, and rates remained unchanged. A program was needed to overcome these obstacles.

Aims/Objectives: To develop and evaluate a Certified Nurse Program that addresses the perceived barriers to certification by proactively supporting, preparing, and recognizing nurses who pursue and maintain a specialty certification.

Methodology: A 200-bed Maryland suburban hospital adopted the program. Initiatives for certification support, preparation, and recognition were implemented. Nurses preparing for the Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN), Adult/Critical Care Nursing (CCRN), and Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN) exams received support and preparation. This included pre-paid vouchers, review classes, and a website for the Certified Nurse Program. Both newly and previously certified nurses were recognized publicly. All 477 nurses were invited to participate in a pre-and post-implementation survey to assess resource awareness, certification barriers, and organizational support.

Results: Twenty-three nurses participated in the review classes, and 10 nurses (44%) passed the certification exam following the review classes. Overall certification rates rose from 31% to 37%. The pre-survey was completed by 69 nurses and the post-survey by 96 nurses. The most frequently cited resource was classes. The most common barriers to certification were lack of study time, exam cost, and test-taking discomfort. A t-test revealed no significant differences in perceived organizational support.

Recommendations: A program that reduces certification barriers may enhance certification rates. These programs should incorporate more specialties. It is necessary to establish preferred ways of reward and support. Studies on the influence of certification rates are needed.

Open Access


Included in

Nursing Commons



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