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Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing certifications on rise

Apr. 9, 2015, 10:00 AM

Over the last year, 21 nurses at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital (VPH) have received certification in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the result of a successful push to certify more nurses.

Before last year, only three nurses were certified, said Jennifer Barut, MSN, a nursing professional development specialist at VPH. Seventeen nurses obtained the certification in 2014, and a special luncheon was held in their honor last December.

Four nurses have earned the certification so far this year, she said.

“I think certification is important because it validates your expert knowledge,” she said. “That internal reward and pride in being a nurse, and a nurse that excels at their job, is the real benefit.”

The push to certify more nurses began after Barut attended the ANCC’s National Magnet Conference in 2013 with other nursing leaders and realized that Vanderbilt needed a better support structure to encourage more nurses to become certified. Avni Cirpili, DNP, Chief Nursing Officer at VPH, was committed to supporting nurses to obtain certification and set a goal, which has now been exceeded. Cirpili and Barut held information sessions on certifications at multiple times during the day, so nurses on multiple shifts would have a chance to attend.

“Certification is a group effort that involves nurse leaders, nurse educators and staff nurses and when these three groups come together, anything is achievable,” Cirpili said. “I am really proud of what Jennifer did to get the ball rolling and really proud of all the nurses who have achieved certification.”

At the information sessions, attendees were given a questionnaire to gauge their interest in certification and the type of support they needed.

Respondents said they would like to have study groups on the topic, so those were made available in person and by teleconference.

Barut met with nurses about their personal goals and the benefits of certification. Nurses who achieve the certification validate their expert knowledge and gain a sense of achievement and personal confidence.

Nurses interested in gaining the certification must meet certain criteria.

They must have a registered nursing license and have spent two years working full time as a nurse. They must have a minimum of 2,000 hours in clinical practice in psychiatric nursing and 30 hours of continuing education in the last three years. An examination is then required.

Vanderbilt nurses are eligible to take the examination at no cost through the Success Pays Program through Nursing Education and Professional Development if they are full time, have completed their probationary period and are not on Performance Improvement Counseling.

For more information, contact Barut at and visit

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