Akron Children’s nurses take a lot of pride in what they do, and that’s one of the reasons many of them choose to pursue certification in their nursing field. Specialty nursing certification is the formal process through a credentialing agency that provides patients and families with validation that the nurse caring for them has demonstrated experience, knowledge and skills in their complex specialty of clinical care.
Although many specialty areas of nursing have offered certification for decades, burn nursing wasn’t one of them until recently. And that happened thanks in part to two Akron Children’s nurses who helped write some of the questions for the burn nursing certification exam.
Mary Mondozzi, a 40-year burn center veteran nurse and currently the unit’s nursing professional development specialist, says burn nurse certification is a way for burn nurses to set themselves apart.
“Being certified is a testament of the nurse’s knowledge and an extra step in education to prove their competence,” she said. “Patients benefit since certification is a link to the nurse’s clinical expertise and dedication. There are studies that document the benefits certified nurses contribute to improved patient outcomes.”
In 2020, the American Nurses Association recognized burn nursing as a nursing specialty, approved the scope of practice, and acknowledged the standards of practice. The next step was developing resources for the exam.
In 2021, Mary was contacted to be the lead author for the Pediatric Burn Injury chapter in Burn Nursing: Injury Prevention to Rehabilitation and Aftercare (finished in late 2022 and published recently as a study resource). A call for item writers was sent out from the American Burn Association (ABA) in early 2022 and Mary, along with her colleague Tami Kline, applied.
“You had to send in a sample question that you wrote and then they looked through those entries,” said Tami, clinical coordinator, who has worked in the burn center for 13 years. “The ones that they thought were good, they notified you and asked if you were able to help write them.”
In September 2022, Tami and Mary traveled to Kansas to help write questions for the Certified Burn Registered Nurse (CBRN) exam.
“It was a busy time,” said Tami. “We had a lot of questions to write in a short amount of time. We would meet as a group to discuss and then change the questions to make them better based off everyone’s feedback.”
Tami said she was advised how to write the questions and what categories were needed.
“One needed to be on the pathophysiology of an outpatient burn,” she said.
There were two different groups writing for the exam and Mary’s group did things a little differently than Tami’s.
“We did not review all our questions together like Tami’s group did,” said Mary. “We had an outline provided, and we were told we had to write a certain number of questions from this outline.
“While in Kansas, Tami and I took a class that taught us how to write good exam questions, and what to avoid when constructing these questions,” she added.
Tami and Mary both completed a spring writing assignment and have another one due in November. Their writing commitment spans until Nov. 2024.
Both women became certified for writing the exam but will have to take the test to recertify in 4 years.
“There was a Beta test for certification, and we had 4 of our nurses pass the exam (Becky Mundy, Sarah Bryan, Paula Cottrill and Kim Edgell),” Tami said. “Since it was the Beta test there really wasn’t anything out there for them to study so it was difficult.”
Dr. Anjay Khandelwal, director of the burn center, was one of the first to share his congratulations.
“They are among the first group of nurses in the U.S. to achieve this recognition,” he said. “Mary and Tami spent hours designing and verifying the testing process, and Sarah, Paula, Kim and Becky took the exam and passed. Out of the initial 168 nurses in the U.S. who passed the exam to become certified, 6 are from Akron Children’s Hospital.”