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Illinois Emergency Nurses Gear Up for Certification Renewals

Monday October 16, 2000
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Illinois emergency nurses who received trauma nurse specialist (TNS) and emergency communications RN (ECRN) certifications from the State of Illinois will begin the renewal of these certifications next year. Nurses who completed the TNS course as many as 12 years ago have been anxiously awaiting word of the procedure required to renew this certification, which educates emergency nurses in the care of trauma patients. ECRN certification allows emergency nurses to convey medical orders to paramedics in the field under the auspices of the emergency medical services (EMS) director.
TNS Recertification
All nurses in Illinois who completed a trauma nurse specialist course should have received a green and white certificate with an expiration date on it from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). You must have this certificate in order to complete the recertification process. If you did not receive this certificate, you must write to IDPH to request one. Direct your inquiries to: Linda Loftus, IDPH, Division of EMS and Highway Safety, 525 West Jefferson, Springfield, IL 62761-0001.
Include your name, (if you are certified under another name also), your current address, your original TNS testing site, and year of course completion, as well as proof of TNS training, such as an IDPH certificate or letter from your testing site.
Check your green and white TNS certificate for the expiration date, located in the center box on the left. You should test at least 90 days prior to the expiration date on your TNS certificate. This allows you some extra time should retesting be necessary. Each nurse is allowed up to three attempts to pass the exam. If you should fail the third time, you must retake the entire course. For this reason, it is important to study prior to the test.
There are a number of different ways to study for the TNS test. You can form a study group, attend current TNS course lectures, study on your own, or attend a TNS review. TNS reviews are presented by TNS course coordinators. The courses are two to three days in length and cost $100. They are generally presented about one month prior to a TNS recertification exam. Some site coordinators also offer CEUs for their refresher courses. You can find available TNS review courses
by accessing the Internet at www.traumanurse.org or by calling a TNS site coordinator in your area. Information regarding the site coordinators in your area is also available at www.traumanurse.org or by contacting Linda Loftus at (217) 785-2080.
Ready, Set, Go
When you are ready to take the TNS recertification exam, you will need to send in an application at least 30 days before the test and at least 90 days prior to the expiration date on your TNS certificate. Tests may be taken at any TNS program site in Illinois; you need not test at your original site of certification. In order to register for the test, you will need to send in the following documents -
· a copy of your green and white TNS certification or card from IDPH
· a copy of your State of Illinois RN license
· an application, which can be obtained from your chosen testing site
· a required IDPH renewal form (child support payment form), which will be sent to you along with the application
When you present for testing, you are required to display a picture identification.
Plan Ahead
Recertification will be required every four years and can be accomplished either by retesting or by accumulating a minimum of 80 continuing education hours during the four-year certification period. Your TNS site coordinator can give you a complete list of activities that will count toward contact hours. However, there is a broad range of options, from academic courses and certifications to injury prevention activities, quality improvement activities, and participation in disaster drills.
ECRN Recertification
Nurses who hold ECRN (formerly MICN) certification are also due to begin renewing their certification in 2001. All nurses who have completed an ECRN course since 1995 should have received an ECRN green and white certification card from the IDPH conveying ECRN status. Nurses who were MICNs prior to July 19, 1995, were grandfathered into ECRN status if they submitted an ECRN application form to their EMS medical director by July 1, 1997.
If you are an ECRN but do not have the green and white IDPH certificate, you should request it, in writing, from: Linda Loftus, IDPH, 525 W. Jefferson Street, Springfield, IL 62761.
Your request should include both your name and a maiden name if you are now married; your current address, as well as the address at which you resided when you achieved MICN/ECRN status; date of birth; and current phone number.
Recertification of ECRNs is under the authority of the resource hospital in whose system you operate. Recertification will be undertaken every four years by completing 32 hours of continuing education in that four-year period. Your EMS Coordinator or EMS system coordinator can help you determine if you have met these criteria. Further questions regarding this process can be obtained by writing to Linda Loftus at the address and phone number mentioned earlier.
As both TNS and ECRN recertification will require continuing education hours, emergency nurses should start planning now by keeping both CECH/CEU certificates, as well as keeping a log of other activities that help fulfill the continuing education requirements for these certifications. Illinois ENA will be offering a number of programs to help nurses meet this continuing education requirement. Wallet cards and posters detailing these programs will be available after January, 2001.