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Changes to Recertification Processes


By James X. Stobinski, Ph.D., RN, CNOR, CSSM (E)

As the CEO of CCI, I often interact with perioperative nurses about their professional development needs. When nurses are unhappy with changes to our programs those telephone calls and messages often come to me. These calls provide useful feedback to CCI. We exist to meet the professional development needs of perioperative nurses. Our biggest contributions to the profession are our certification programs. Recertification is a necessity with certification processes, but it is also a source of frustration for some because of recent changes. In this column, I will provide some background information on recertification processes for CCI credentials – such as CSSM and CNOR.

First, it is important to note that the recertification processes for all of our credentials are shaped, in large measure, by our accreditation agencies; the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC) or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Just as health care facilities must maintain accredited status to be financially viable so must CCI maintain accreditation status for its programs. In addition, recognition of nursing certifications by the ANCC Magnet facility recognition programs and many state boards of nursing are dependent on accreditation status.

CCI, as an organization, is not accredited. Our certification programs are each individually accredited. Our programs must comport with the standards of ABSNC and NCCA. These standards are revised periodically, and these revisions ultimately lead to changes in how CCI certifications are operationalized. The ABSNC standards for examination-based certification programs were revised in 2019-20 and the NCCA standards are under revision at present with the public comment period being open in early 2021.

In general, each of these organizations have strengthened their standards on quality assurance, the separation of test development processes from the sale of products and, most importantly, in recertification processes. Where formerly accreditation standards on recertification were focused on recordkeeping processes and security there is now an emphasis on the maintenance of competency in recertification processes. CCI must now provide evidence that our recertification processes facilitate the maintenance of competency for our certificants. The long-term reliance on the use of continuing education (CE) has drawn increasing scrutiny from accreditation agencies. Recertification processes based solely on the use of CE are no longer the accepted norm with certifications.

For CSSM certificants, the most significant change, beginning in 2021, is that there is no longer a recertification assessment requiring in-person testing. We now have a reflective learning exercise that is encouraged in ABSNC Standard 13 and is consistent with the seminal report from the Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Planning a Continuing Health Professional Education Institute (2010). The CCI credentialing team can assist with the reflective learning forms and placement in the files of each certificant.

For the CNOR credential, we continue our gradual, years-long transition from a CE-only recertification option to the professional development points system supported by the CCI Learning Management System (LMS) based on the LearnUpon platform. These learning activities, which allow the use of some CE, are available without charge to all active certificants and are integrated with the AORN CE recordkeeping system. Also, effective January 1, 2021, there is no longer an option for any CCI certification to recertify by again taking the certification exam.

We expect that future standards revisions will impact our recertification programs and we will use a variety of channels to update stakeholders. A good source of information is the recently initiated live Facebook sessions, Thursday Thoughts, Ask the CEO where I answer certificant questions in a live format. I look forward to working with and receiving input from our CCI certificants.

Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification. (2021). ABSNC Accreditation. Accessed February 6, 2021 at:
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Planning a Continuing Health Professional Education Institute. Redesigning Continuing Education in the Health Professions. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2010. Available from: doi: 10.17226/12704
LearnUpon (2021). Unlock the power of learning with LearnUpon LMS. Accessed February 7, 2021 at:
The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (2021). NCCA Accreditation. Accessed February 6, 2021 at:

James X. Stobinski, Ph.D., RN, CNOR, CSSM(E), is Chief Executive Officer at Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI).



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