Weekly Q&A: Motivating staff to obtain specialty certification without financial incentives

HCPro's Weekly Update on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®*, November 7, 2006

This week, a reader wants to know how to encourage staff nurses to earn their specialty certification without offering financial incentives. Read the response below from our advisor, Dorothy Anne Garman, RN, MSN, ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® coordinator and coordinator of professional development and patient education at Newport (RI) Hospital.

Q: Do you have any suggestions on how to get staff nurses interested in earning their specialty certification, other than by offering money?

A: Staff often feel there are barriers that discourage them from obtaining certification. For example, they may feel that the process of application, preparation, and the exam is overwhelming, especially if they are doing it alone rather than with a group. Money is not the only way to overcome this reluctance and is not the only incentive that will increase their motivation to obtain certification in their specialty area.

To increase nursing staff comfort with the process, while encouraging participation and enthusiasm, consider having a certification review at your organization, or a nearby facility. Having the review off-site allows nursing staff from other healthcare organizations to attend-and reduces costs.

Promoting study groups is another approach that facilitates staff motivation, collaboration, and understanding of the content that needs to be reviewed in preparation for the certification exam. Study groups help prevent staff from feeling alone and can help them decide if they are prepared to take the exam. Review materials such as books, tapes, and CDs can be purchased to assist staff in the review process. Consider having a session to promote certification and invite nurses who have obtained certification to answer questions and encourage others to follow through with the process.

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