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  • Writer's pictureiCare Community Magazine

In Pursuit of ExcellenceHospice and Palliative Care Certification

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” - Pat Riley

The value of professional certification is important in many fields because it indicates a profession’s official recognition of achievement and knowledge in a specialized area by accrediting agencies or specialty organizations.

For healthcare professionals, certification is a process that validates one’s expertise in a specialty area, indicating mastery of a defined body of knowledge. Treasure Coast Hospice VP of Clinical Operations April Price, RN, MSN, MBA, CHPN, oversees all clinical programs to ensure that the organization is providing cutting edge and evidence-based care.

“For nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants working in hospice, certification represents a mastery of knowledge and skills needed to demonstrate the performance of safe, consistent, industry-leading, compassionate end-of-life care.”

Commitment to the Profession

In 1992, the National Board for Certification of Hospice Nurses was formed with the goal of introducing a certification process for hospice clinicians. Visionaries developed the certification exam based upon their expertise and early research of hospice nursing, offering the first exam in 1994.

Today, the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC) offers specialty exams for many levels of nursing:

• Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (ACHPN)

• Registered Nurses (CHPN)

• Pediatric Registered Nurses (CHPPN)

• Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses (CHPLN)

• Nursing Assistants (CHPNA)

In addition, HPCC maintains two interdisciplinary certification programs for hospice administrators (CHPCA) and perinatal loss professionals (CPLC) for those who were certified when these certification examinations were offered.

Hospice and palliative care professionals who commit to the preparation and testing involved in the certification process demonstrate:

• Achievement and proven competency across the spectrum of hospice and palliative care

• Increased knowledge of hospice and palliative care

• Commitment to excellence and expertise in their specialty practice

• Dedication to professional and career development

Price has observed how certification boosts the confidence level of her peers. “Certification provides all levels of hospice nursing professionals with knowledge targeted toward objective interventions that impact patient care outcomes. Certified staff become more confident in their abilities, often taking on the role of a mentor to ensure best practices among the care team.”

Collaboration among members of the interdisciplinary team is unique to hospice. Observational learning occurs as members of the team work together, sharing and applying best practices of hospice care.

Commitment to Patients

Professionals pursue certification for many reasons, including career development and higher compensation. However, the most intrinsic reward is one that has historically drawn clinicians to the specialty of hospice work – the ability to effectively care for patients at the end of life.

“Hospice work can be emotionally and mentally challenging due to extensive regulatory requirements and the complexities of coordinating care for patients facing a life-limiting illness,” said Price. “Our clinicians are passionate about their work and deeply committed to our patients and families. Certification elevates hospice to the specialty that it is so that our team can help more people reach their end-of-life care goals.”

As the public continues to gain a better understanding of hospice and advanced care planning, board-certified clinicians will be called upon for their clinical experience, evidence-based practice and education in order to deliver quality care. At Treasure Coast Hospice, staff who serve as senior preceptors take on the role of training, setting the bar for what patient-facing care should look like. They are required to be certified and, along with other board-certified clinicians on the team, help create a “culture of excellence” that continually strives to improve patient care.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections, beginning in 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65 years of age or 1 in every 5 people.

“The nation’s aging population will further increase the need for healthcare and quality end-

of-life care, contributing to a demand for hospice and palliative care professionals,” said Price.

“There has never been a better time for hospice and palliative care clinicians to embrace certification and life-long learning opportunities that can distinguish them from their peers.”

To encourage staff to pursue certification, Treasure Coast Hospice sponsors review courses and reimburses staff for costs associated with certification and recertification. Price, who serves as an elected board member of the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center, wants to continue to find ways to highlight and honor staff members who become certified.

“We are proud of the team members who have achieved their hospice and palliative care certification,” said Price. “Treasure Coast Hospice is committed to helping staff pursue excellence through continuous education and certification because it will help ensure our organization is prepared to meet the growing needs of our community.”

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