USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital, part of Keck Medicine of USC, is being recognized for its exceptional support of emergency nursing certification. It is the first hospital in California to receive BCEN Honorary Certification Recognition, an award that is bestowed on one small and one large health care facility each year by the Board of Certification in Emergency Nursing (BCEN). USC-VHH was chosen from a group of 85 small health care facilities for this year’s award, which is being presented today at the Emergency Nurses Association annual conference in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The award reflects USC-VHH’s recent efforts to promote emergency nursing certification. This plan was put into motion three years ago, when USC-VHH’s nursing leadership stabilized the nursing workforce by filling vacancies and working to eliminate contract labor, which allowed the community hospital to pivot to skill building and training.

“Certification is a way to elevate basic nursing practice to expert practice,” says Theresa Murphy, RN, MSHA, CENP, chief nursing officer at USC-VHH. “It communicates to the public that we deliver nursing care with a higher level of training and performance.”

In the last year, USC-VHH has provided ER nurses several opportunities to expand their skill set, including a two-day Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course (ENPC) as well as a two-day triage course and a Certified Emergency Nursing (CEN) review course. The hospital also launched a CEN certification bonus program to reward nurses for their efforts.

“Nearly 100 percent of our registered nurses have passed the ENPC course,” says Jessica Thomas, RN, MSN, CCRN-K, CNML, CENP, associate administrator of USC-VHH’s emergency department. “We also have eight CEN nurses, with many more actively studying for the exam in the next few months. The team is energized about certification and providing outstanding care.”

BCEN, a nonprofit organization that provides certification for emergency nurses, established the BCEN Honorary Certification Recognition program in 2008. Recognition is bestowed on organizations that have demonstrated outstanding promotion of specialty certification in emergency, flight, critical care ground transport, pediatric emergency nursing and/or trauma nursing.

“The end outcome of all of these efforts is providing excellent care and driving safe care — values that are consistent with our commitment to our community and being part of an academic health system,” Murphy says.

USC-VHH’s ER boasts an average waiting time of less than 30 minutes, and through its affiliation with Keck Medicine of USC, the hospital provides easy access to highly specialized care for patients with complex health care needs.