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Making the Case for Ongoing Development in Perioperative Nursing Leaders

By James X. Stobinski,PhD, RN, CNOR

OR Today Magazine | Competency and Credentialing Institute | Making the Case for Ongoing Professional Development in Perioperative Nursing LeadersThe operating room is a fast-paced, complex and ever-evolving environment. Nursing leaders must engage in continuous professional development (CPD), or ongoing education, just to stay even with the pace of change. This need for lifelong learning, or CPD, was clearly stated in the Institute of Medicine’s 2011 “Report on the Future of Nursing,” and practical experience in our workplace reinforces this necessity.

The career progression of perioperative nurse leaders has changed markedly over the last three to four decades. It was previously assumed that perioperative leaders must have extensive clinical experience to be successful in a management role. As a result of rigorous scientific studies using job analysis methods performed by the Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI), we now know that managing an operating room is a distinct and separate skill set.

Since clinical skills in perioperative nursing do not guarantee success as a manager, there should be separate education to set management candidates up for success. Until recently, there was no such education available. Being acutely aware of the challenges its perioperative nurses faced as they transitioned to management roles, CCI recently instituted programs to address this knowledge gap.

To meet the need for specialized education, CCI has offered a Certificate of Mastery in Surgical Services Management. This educational program may be done in self-directed, asynchronous learning or in conjunction with live instruction as will be offered at the OR Today Live! Surgical Conference in Las Vegas later this year. As defined by the American Speech-Hearing Association certificate courses are, “… a training program on a specialized topic for which participants receive a certificate after completing the course and passing an assessment instrument.”

We eventually found that the body of knowledge required to be successful in surgical services management was even sufficient enough to support a certification exam. In July of 2015, CCI will offer the first testing period for the CSSM (Certified Surgical Services Manager) certification exam. A certification exam is differentiated from a certificate program in that it is a, “…voluntary process by which a non-governmental entity grants a time-limited recognition and use of a credential to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria.”

The CSSM certification exam allows successful test takers to use the CSSM designation as part of their credentials. As the larger group of perioperative nurses has the CNOR certification, perioperative nurse managers now will have the CSSM certification to represent their specialized knowledge.

With these two programs, aspiring perioperative nurse leaders may now chart an educational and professional development path that will culminate in the CSSM certification. The CSSM credential has a distinct recertification mechanism which will delineate a program of CPD for the period the credential is active. This progressive approach to recertification is designed to maintain and advance the competency level of the perioperative nurse leader by addressing their knowledge levels as demonstrated on the initial certification exam.

In the IOM “Report on the Future of Nursing” (2011, p 213) clearly speaks to the need for CPD, stating, “The nursing profession must adopt a framework of continuous lifelong learning that includes basic education, academic progression, and continuing competencies.”

This need is prominent for perioperative nursing leaders but there is now a clear career path with standardized educational materials and also a certification process geared to support lifelong learning. It is the hope of CCI that in working with our partners, such as OR Today or your membership organization, we can assist you in your perioperative nursing career and facilitate your success.

James X. Stobinski, PhD, RN, CNOR, is the Director of Credentialing & Education at CCI in Denver, Colorado, and has over 25 years of experience in the operating room.


American Nurses Association and National Nursing Staff Development Organization. (2010). Nursing professional development: Scope and standards of practice. Silver Spring, MD:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Professional Certification vs. Certificate Program. Accessed 12 JUN 2015 at:

The Competency and Credentialing Institute. (2015). CSSM Candidate Handbook. Retrieved 11 JUN 2015 from:

IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2011. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.



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