But the correlation between certifications and HAI is more of a surprise, according to NDNQI program specialist Pam Hinshaw MSN, RN, CCM.
"I think it will be striking to nurse leaders out there in the world," she tells HealthLeaders. "It's not just about numbers."
The research found that critical care units with higher percentages of RNs holding national specialty certifications had lower CLABSI and CAUTI rates. Specifically, Critical Care Registered Nurse certification was associated with lower rates of CAUTI, and Cardiac Surgical Certification was associated with lower rates of CLABSI.
According to Hinshaw, the study findings should encourage nurse leaders to "think outside the box" when it comes to staffing. For example, they might want to find out how many nurses on their unit are CCRN certified and work hard to retain them. They should also consider whether nurses have certifications when they do their hiring.
Nurse leaders may also consider pushing for funding in their budgets to get nurses certified. According to Hinshaw, getting certified not only takes hard work to achieve, but also some legwork on the nurse's part to figure out how to actually do it.
In fact, one nurse leader I talked with for a different column said many of her nurses were unsure about what they wanted to become certified in and often unaware of how to become certified in the first place. Therefore increasing education about professional certifications—how and where to get them—as well as funding for them, might be beneficial for nurse leaders.