Kathy Baker, MBA, B.S.N., R.N., CCRN, CNRN, is celebrating three decades as a certified critical care nurse (CCRN). She is one of 600 CCRNs who have maintained the certification for 30 years this year. Kathy currently serves as Relief Charge and Relief Supervisor for 3 North at LifeCare Hospitals of Pittsburgh, Main Campus. A nurse for nearly 40 years, she has been with LifeCare for 3.5 years. The Pulse caught up with Kathy to learn more about how she Owns It.
CCRN-Critical Care RN and CNRN-Certified Neuroscience RN
Number of years you’ve held these specialty certifications:
CCRN 30 years, CNRN 15 years
What do you enjoy most about being a nurse?
Making a difference in the patient’s life and helping them to overcome their fears of the unknown with their diagnosis. Teaching fellow staff members and patients to assist them to learn the new innovations in health care today. My philosophy is “If you get lemons, make lemonade.” We have to make the best of every situation. Patients are so much sicker than when I began my career, and it is sometimes very difficult to give them the skills that they need to survive with their diagnosis in the limited time we interact with them.
Why do you enjoy working in your department?
Great teamwork and a diversity of patients. We all work very well together to care for our patients.
What inspired you to choose a career in nursing?
I always wanted to be a nurse. I guess I wanted to help people. I am still as passionate about it today as I was when I started in the profession.
Why did you choose to pursue this specialty certification?
I have always been of the thought that a national certification validates you as a clinical expert in that field. It enables you to care for the sickest of the sick and be a credible member of the care team who has a voice for the patient as a true patient advocate, at times we may be the only voice the patient has. When I first got my CCRN, health care was exploding with new technology. We were on the cutting-edge of transplantation and rejection prevention. It is very rewarding today to see how some of our clinical trials have become standards of care and improved patients and families lives.
Do you think your specialty certification has helped you advance in your career?
Absolutely!! Through my certifications, I have been sought out as a clinical expert to lecture on various topics in both the national and international arenas. I was elected as president of The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses by my colleagues, and was appointed as the only woman and nurse to the Executive Committee of the World Spine Society, which is an international organization that fosters spine care around the world. These are just two of my many opportunities and accomplishments. I believe that without my CCRN & CNRN certifications, I doubt I would have offered any of these exciting opportunities.
Why do you think it’s important for health care professionals to keep their skills sharp and pursue certifications in their field of specialty?
Very important. It is crucial to our patients that we remain sharp in our skills and knowledge. Health care is changing so rapidly that it is sometimes difficult to keep up. Certification and membership in both local and national organizations helps to keep us current so we can continue to be patient advocates.
How do you think earning a specialty certification is an example of our value Own It?
Certification shows that we put our patients at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. Because of the certifications, we are more able to care for them due to the increased knowledge base and clinical skills we have. We strive to do our best for them with every decision we make and include them and their families in developing a plan of care tailored specifically for them utilizing the most up to day standards and knowledge.
Congratulations, Kathy! We are proud of you!