By James X. Stobinski, PhD, RN, CNOR, CSSM (E)
I wrote this column last month as we were just beginning to realize the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The American health care system continues to wrestle with unprecedented demand for critical care resources in early May (as I write this column). The staff at Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI) are still working from home to address the needs of our perioperative nurse certificants. It is difficult to maintain regular communication under these circumstances as we consider the disruption faced by many of our nurses. I would like to update the perioperative community on our efforts to be ready when the COVID-19 pandemic diminishes and we can resume normal operations.
First, let me reassure you that the full complement of CCI staff remains at work and available to address your certification and professional development needs. The credentialing team continues to work from home, but we have not experienced significant degradation of our services to certificants. Our response times remain consistent with pre-pandemic levels as we answer inquiries regarding recertification and re-scheduling of testing appointments.
In-person testing facilitated by our partner Prometric remains shut down with phased reopening beginning June 1. The shut down of facilities may continue beyond that date due to local restrictions.
When testing facilities do reopen there will likely be diminished capacity for some time as social distancing requirements will be in effect that will require additional spacing between testing candidates. We estimate that testing sites may work at 50% of capacity for some time and that will decrease the availability of options for testing seats.
In anticipation of decreased capacity for in-person testing CCI is working closely with Prometric to increase the availability of Remote Secure Proctored Examinations which can be done from the home of the tester. Approval has been secured from our accrediting agencies, the NCCA and ABSNC, to offer remote exams for the CNOR, CSSM and CNAMB credentials once the capacity is available.
We have completed pilot testing and anticipate making remote testing more widely available. This testing should, at present, be considered a supplement to the limited in-person testing. We also will not mandate remote testing for any of our test takers. All nurses testing will have the option to re-schedule to a future date when additional in-person testing is available and CCI staff will facilitate the re-scheduling process in tandem with the Prometric team.
The launch of the ambulatory surgery credential (CNAMB) has been pushed back to later in 2020. CCI will re-open registration for this exam during July and August. The inaugural testing period will be the entire month of September and full-time, year-round testing will then resume in the first quarter of 2021. A CNAMB Prep Course will be available in July with a recorded version of the course being the first offering.
To increase the diversity of professional development offerings, CCI continues to develop our suite of microcredentials and certificate of mastery programs. That work is facilitated by several partners. The selection of microcredentials will continue to grow with additional offerings coming online in mid-2020.
The CCI staff will continue to build up our programs and learning activities as we await the easing of the COVID-19 crisis. We continue to be impressed by the stories of sacrifice and adaptation as perioperative nurses do their part in response to the extraordinary demands placed on our health care system. Please stay safe and take good care of yourself and your families.