Overcoming Barriers of Achieving Nurse Certification in the Military Health System

Overcoming Barriers of Achieving Nurse Certification in the Military Health System


Name: Dixie Aune

Rank: CAPT

Presenter/Poster: Accepted - no presentation due to COVID19 response

Year: 2020


Description of Project: A Military Health System (MHS) Nurse Certification Campaign made up of service members and civilians from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) designed and implemented 20 no-cost nurse certification review courses facilitated by in-house subject matter experts. The project interventions sought to overcome barriers to achieving Nurse Specialty Board Certifications at NMCP.

Objectives: The goal of this project is to make the certification process more achievable for MHS nurses by implementing a focused multi-modal certification campaign. In MHS nurses (P), how does the implementation of an (I) multi-modal no-cost certification campaign (I) compared to current practice (C) effect certification rates (O) over six-months (T)? Background/Significance: Evidence shows that nurse specialty-certification has a direct correlation with patient outcomes, job satisfaction, and employee engagement, which can promote a culture of High Reliability within the MHS.

Study Methods: A review of 47 articles was completed, in conjunction with internal evidence from 120 nurses within NMCP. A total of 10 questions about barriers and incentives to getting certification were asked. The participants were instructed to rank their incentives and barriers which included exam reimbursement, personal growth, onsite review courses and library resources. The barriers included cost of exam, anxiety, recognition, and time management. Following data analysis, a certification review course was developed as part of a larger certification campaign to address the barriers to certification.

Project Findings: The top three barriers to certification were the cost of the exam, cost of the certification review course, and lack of professional recognition. NMCP implemented 20 no-cost board certification review courses, completed by 150 nurses, including 35 Active Duty Nurses deployed in support of Enduring Promise: USNS COMFORT (T-AH-20). The developed review course resulted in a cost savings of $228,000 and exceeded expectations by adding 1,635 Continuing Nurse Education Credit's (CNE's).

Implications for MHS Nursing: Board certification plays a significant role in ensuring that nurses within the Military Health System (MHS) have the specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities to meet the demands of the austere global environment.