Tamekia Chisholm, MSN, APRN, PCCN-K, ACNS-BC, NPD-BC is a Nursing Professional Development Manager at ChristianaCare in Delaware. Tamekia’s special focus is on the development of nurses through mentorship, certification, precepting, leadership and clinical advancement. She is known as the “certification queen” to ChristianaCare’s almost 4,000 nurses. She is an advocate for nursing specialty board certification as a validation of clinical and professional knowledge and outcome improvements for unique patient populations. In honor of Certified Nurses Day, annually observed on March 19, Tamekia shared her perspective on nursing specialty board certification and why it is so important to our profession and those we serve.

Why is Nursing Certification important to you?

Nursing certification is important to me because it represents a badge of honor that symbolizes the knowledge, competence and clinical judgement required for a nursing practice specialty. Each certification that I have obtained represents a pivotal milestone in my professional journey and validates continued movement toward my goals. I have been a nurse for over 26 years and obtaining my first certification was motivation to strive for continued excellence in my nursing practice. Each of my certifications represents a personal and professional validation that I possess the clinical competence within the specialty.

What led you to become highly involved in supporting and advancing Nursing Certification at ChristianaCare and in Delaware? 

Back in 2006, as a unit-based cardiac educator, certification became a passion of mine. Initially I started out attempting to increase number of critical-care and progressive care certified nurses (CCRN and PCCN respectively) within my service line. By 2007, I wanted to expand on my original goal by increasing the total number of certified nurses within ChristianaCare. At that time, we had 357 certified nurses within our entire health care system.

I began to engage leadership in the goal and shortly after started offering specialty review courses on campus which started the campaign to improve our certification numbers. I revised the certification policy to eliminate the financial barriers associated with preparation courses, initial testing, and recertification. Each year we offered on-campus review courses and online review courses and we embedded certification in the clinical ladder advancement program.

I am currently the facilitator for the system-wide Education, Development and Advancement Council and have worked with this group to promote enculturation of nursing certification into everything we do. The council supports an annual poster contest for Certified Nurses Day, based on a theme, which encourage the various inpatient and ambulatory practice areas to celebrate certified nurses and encourage nurses to achieve specialty board certification. Additionally, each practice area identifies a goal to increase their percentage of certified nurses and they highlight how they plan to meet that goal.

I am proud to share that 53% (1,722) of our nurses that are eligible for board certification have achieved a specialty nursing certification in more than 100 specialties!

In your own words, how does nursing certification impact nurses, health care, patients and families?

Nursing certification impacts nurses, health care, patients and families because it demonstrates to those we serve our commitment to exceptional care. Nursing certification conveys to our neighbors that we are invested in providing safe and effective care and we are dedicated to the professional development of nurses. I feel that having a professional certification helps promote a healthy work environment, increases nurse satisfaction and ultimately improves patient care outcomes.

As health care and nursing evolve, what does the future of nursing certification look like to you?

The future of nursing certification looks bright. I can see more nursing specialty certifications being developed as health care continues to evolve and more patients are cared for in settings other than hospitals. The nursing profession evolves along with and leads the reformation of health care, so too will nursing practice specialties and related certifications. I see more nurses obtaining their specialty certification as they become eligible (there is usually a two-year practice requirement). In my role and with my leadership, I will continue to support, mentor and encourage nurses from all levels to obtain and maintain a nursing specialty certification.