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Nursing Faculty Paula Belknap Earns CNE Credentials

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Why Nurse Education Certification?

"Certifications require professional development, continuing education units, and keeping one's knowledge base current. These aspects then also flow over into each of my jobs as a nurse educator and bedside nurse to ensure the best care is given to all I encounter." - Belknap

Paula Belknap, one of three new faculty on board at the UW Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, recently passed the National Nurse Educator Certification exam. It's a tough exam, takes much preparation and hard work. Why was this important to her and how can others benefit by pursuing such certification?

Belknap had five basic reasons for pursuing the certification:

  • Obtaining certification shows professionalism and exhibits dedication and expertise to one's field.

  • With the nurse education certification, support is given to nursing education as a specialty so one day it will be recognized as one of the advanced practice roles.

  • Belknap now holds two national certifications, one as a medical-surgical nurse and the other as a nurse educator. "The certifications help me bring current evidence to education in the classroom and clinical settings," says Belknap.

  • Certification allows others to have confidence in your abilities to provide the best for your audience, whether that is a group of patients or students.

  • Of course, certifications can also open doors for employment and higher pay if so desired.


What's included in the preparation for such an exam?

Belknap lists her preparation steps for the CNE exam: 

  • Attendance at two review courses

  • Reading four different texts on the CNE exam, test item analysis, and being a nurse educator

  • Researching the literature for articles to review focused on the main parts of the exam, as well as online courses with modules focused on each of the exams parts

  • The development of a table--my final step--outlined according to the six parts of the exam, with all these resources included as a summary of main points and links


What helped her be successful?

"All the students I have taught over the years provided me with the best feedback in how to apply active learning in the classroom and how their individual learning styles need to be met. They are my greatest asset for success." - Belknap

"I think having gotten a post-Masters Nurse Educator certificate, a PhD in Education, and then practicing/experiencing what I learned through employment at both the community college and university arenas helped a great deal," says Belknap in regard to passing the difficult national certification exam. She adds, "Being on a variety of committees--the ReNEW curriculum development committee and then the ReNEW Curriculum & Evaluation committee--was a huge asset in sections on the exam dealing with curriculum, outcomes, objectives, leveling based on Bloom's taxonomy, and understanding how those must build on each other."

Belknap continues her listing of what she believes helped her pass the test:

  • Attending test-writing workshops at conferences and working for Kaplan teaching the NCLEX-RN Review course was instrumental in my understanding for developing student's ability to critically think, how test items, as well as exam strategies should be used, and how to analyze exam results.

  • Being at U.W. even for this short time, provided further clarification of the appointment options and how Boyer's Model for Scholarship works at the university level.

  • All the students I have taught over the years provided me with the best feedback in how to apply active learning in the classroom and how their individual learning styles need to be met. They are my greatest asset for success.


Why put yourself through the stress of obtaining certification?

Belknap candidly shares why she pursued the certification: "Having certifications holds me accountable and does not allow for procrastination with continuing my learning and gaining further knowledge of evidence-based practice in both of my roles as a nurse....The certifications require professional development, continuing education units, and keeping one's knowledge base current. These aspects then also flow over into each of my jobs as a nurse educator and bedside nurse to ensure the best care is given to all I encounter. This is the best response I can give when asked why one would put themselves through the stress of obtaining certification."

"Was the exam hard? Oh yes it was. But, when I had to take the culmination of 16-years of educator experience with high-school, hospital staff, and nursing students and apply that all to one exam, it was difficult. At the same time, that all helped me pass."


A big Thank You...

Paula Belknap says, "Thanks to Laramie County Community College and the University of Wyoming for allowing me to do what I love!"


Page posted 11/19/2018

 

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