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A Day in the Life: Certified Critical Care Nurse

As a PICU nurse, Christiane Jenkins takes care of the sickest patients.

As a PICU nurse, Christiane Jenkins takes care of the sickest patients.

Caring. Thoughtful. Conscientious. These are just some of the words used to describe Christiane Jenkins, a registered nurse in Akron Children’s Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

But another word can also describe Jenkins − certified.

Jenkins is a certified critical care nurse (CCRN), one of several advanced certifications available to nurses at all levels.

jenkins-with-iv Although the rules vary depending upon the certification, most nurses must work in the nursing field at least two years before they can take the rigorous certification exam.

Once certified, the nurse must complete a specific number of continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain the certification.

“I’m a nervous test taker; I always have been,” said Jenkins, a PICU nurse since 2005 and a Children’s employee since 2000. “But I was much more nervous taking my certification exam than I was taking my state boards to get my nursing license.”

All nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to become licensed nurses.

But while licensure tests a general level of knowledge, certification tests an expert level of knowledge, competency and skills in a specialty.

Jenkins believes a key benefit of the certification is personal satisfaction.

Christiane Jenkins helps train student nurse Grace Gotschall.

Christiane Jenkins helps train student nurse Grace Gotschall.

“When you’re certified, you are always pushing yourself to higher standards,” she said. “You are always striving to be excellent, and you are accountable to provide the best practices of care for your patients.  My certification isn’t something my patients or their parents can ‘see,’ but I know it gives me more confidence and makes me a better nurse.”

Akron Children’s helps nurses at all levels to pursue certification.

“The hospital reimburses you for all the expenses associated with taking the certification exam – the prep course and the cost of the exam – and makes it very easy to earn the CEUs and maintain your certification,” said Melanie Brewster, RN, BSN, CCRN, clinical coordinator of the PICU.

Both Jenkins and Brewster believe the certification process is a valuable way for nurses to keep in step with the ever-changing field of nursing.

“Nursing has become much more of a collaborative career,” said Jenkins. “Nurses work with a variety of individuals to provide the best care possible for their patients. It’s the nurse’s responsibility to translate all the medical terms to the patients and make sure they feel comfortable.”

Christiane Jenkins consults with Dr. Urmila Tirodker (center) and nurse practitioner Beth Forst (left).

Christiane Jenkins consults with Dr. Urmila Tirodker (center) and nurse practitioner Beth Forst (left).

Jenkins has found her certification to be very useful in the PICU.

“We all work as a team – the nurses, physicians, therapists, pharmacists. And my certification helps me feel much more confident to express my opinion when we’re discussing a patient’s care plan,” she said. “The process to become certified helped me understand that you have to appreciate yourself and your abilities before you can expect others to appreciate you.”

If you’re interested in a pediatric nursing job, check out our nursing career opportunities at Akron Children’s Hospital.