CCI Blog

2023 TrueNorth Winner: Inova Heart & Vascular Institute Cardiovascular OR

Posted by Lindsey McNorton on Jun 23, 2023 9:09:15 AM

2018-03-08 14_39_38-CCI_TrueNorth.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

In many ways, certification acts as a compass directing a nurse’s clinical practice toward nationally accepted standards. Nurses who attain certification, and the facilities that support them, demonstrate a commitment to improving patient outcomes and mastering the knowledge it takes to do so.

CCI developed the TrueNorth Award in 2013 to recognize facilities that use certification as a “true north” to guide their perioperative nurses to be lifelong learners, models of competent practice, and advocates for excellence and patient safety. To be considered for this high award of merit, facilities must apply and provide detailed information on how their organization recognizes and rewards certified nurses. Facilities are also required to demonstrate the impact certification had on both patients and staff and must include letters of endorsement to support the efforts of their facility.

We are excited to announce the winner of the 2023 TrueNorth Award is the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiovascular OR (IHVI-CVOR). IHVI-CVOR was not only the 2023 TrueNorth recipient, but also received the following 2023 Special Commendations: Narrative Write-Up, Structure, Recognition, and Volunteer Service. 

We had the pleasure of learning more about the IHVI-CVOR from Gini Beatty, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, CNOR, CVOR Clinical Educator/Mentor, who submitted the TrueNorth application on behalf of her facility. Information and quotes are provided courtesy of Beatty

IHVI-CVOR_TrueNorthAward_7118Photo provided by Inova Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiovascular OR 

How has your
facility supported nurses who are pursuing certification?

There is a multitude of programs that Inova provides to support perioperative certified nurses. Each certificant receives a certification bonus in the amount of 2% of their annual salary when they achieve their initial certification. There is a clinical ladder that recognizes certified nurses as proficient in their area of specialty and, along with other criteria, recognizes them as either an RN3 or RN4. Ascending this clinical ladder results in an increase in their hourly rate and recognizes their expertise as a clinical resource and mentor for other team members.

Upon certification, they are also eligible for reimbursement for prep courses, books, and other study materials they have purchased as well as the amount of the exam fee. 

In what ways has certification impacted the staff and patients in your facility?

Our certified nurses are continuously striving to improve our clinical practice to provide world-class patient care every time, at every touch. During the initial surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, our nurses developed a mobile ECMO cart and process to perform a procedure to initiate ECMO support at the bedside. This provided the safest scenario for the patient receiving treatment, other patients in our facility, and all team members. As a result of their monumental efforts and innovation, our ECMO program received the 2020 Extracorporeal Life Support Organization’s Gold Center of Excellence Award for Excellence in Life Support.

Our department has 100% participation of certificants on our Unit Based Council sub-committees including the Retention and Recruitment committee, the Nursing Professional Development committee, the Scheduling committee, and the Clinical Excellence and Patient Experience committee. These committees continuously strive to implement process improvements and form a culturally sensitive and empowering framework within our department to achieve optimal patient outcomes and experiences.

Our entire department was selected as Inova Nursing Stars in 2020. This is an honor of nursing excellence nominated and funded by an admiring patient, family member and/or colleague that recognizes the exemplary care provided by our proficient certified nursing team in the CVOR. In this case, our nursing team was nominated by the Cardiovascular Surgeons that they work with every day. This is indicative of the respect that our certified nurses have gained from the interdisciplinary team that works directly with them day in and day out. 

How does the staff in your facility celebrate the achievement of nurses?

One of Inova Health System’s values is focused on OUR PEOPLE: “We create an environment of respect and growth, where contributions are recognized and rewarded”. It is very important to Inova Health Systems to recognize individuals who achieve specialty nursing certification, and they do so in multiple ways.

These include an annual certification recognition breakfast and ceremony on Certified Nurses’ Day. At the celebration, each certified nurse receives a small gift of some sort, a certification pin, as well as a letter from the Chief Nursing Officer. 

In addition to the organizational celebration, the CVOR has a departmental certification celebration at which leadership presents each certified nurse with a CVOR specific certification pin, recognizing their distinct CNOR certification. Newly certified team members are also recognized in the daily morning huddle immediately after they receive their certification and with a personalized banner.

The CVOR department has a recognition board called our Wall of Excellence that displays the department’s total percentage of certification and recognizes each certified individual by name. Included on the Wall of Excellence are our CNOR Strong plaques, a designation we received in 2021 and 2022.

There is also an annual report on the organization’s website that recognizes every nurse and the certification they received. This is visible to every Inova team member and the public.

IHVI-CVOR_TrueNorthAward_cPhoto provided by Inova Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiovascular OR 

Are there any other practices your facility has implemented to encourage and support certified nurses?

Inova Health Systems has an ADVANCE Clinical Ladder that certified nurses can participate in to demonstrate their facility and unit engagement and commitment to improving clinical outcomes and patient experiences. Professional development and continuous learning prepare nurses to keep pace with the rapid changes in healthcare. Progressing on the ADVANCE Clinical Ladder offers certified nurses an opportunity to develop leadership skills and increase their compensation as they ascend the ladder.

The organization also provides contact hours through their HealthStream offerings, Nursing Grand Rounds, perioperative-specific symposiums, and selected educational in-services that certificants can utilize toward their recertification requirements.

An additional resource that is available to all team members is the Jacob D. Zylman Health Sciences Library. The library offers support in the form of a Nursing Journal Club, evidence-based data research assistance, and a myriad of certification prep materials. The CVOR has its own AORN journal, AORN guidelines and CNOR, CSSM certification prep lending library that applicants and certificants can utilize. Inova offers Professional Development Awards that certified nurses can apply for to reimburse recertification fees.

Do you have any tips for other facilities looking to earn the TrueNorth award or increase their certification percentage?

Each perioperative department in the Inova Health System is designated at least one Professional Practice representative. In the case of the CVOR, we have a Clinical Nurse Educator. She is also our CCI Certification Coach who participates in the Coach Locator Program. This graduate-level nursing professional identifies knowledge gaps, develops and implements a continuing education assessment and calendar, supports individual professional development for all nursing staff, and facilitates new graduate fellow nurses through their transition to practice. This includes supporting the Nurse Residency Program and preparation for their specialty certification exam and progression up the clinical ladder. 

Each certified nurse on the CVOR team participates in the orientation of multidisciplinary team members which include: physician assistants, RNFAs, surgical assistants, surgical technologists, cardiovascular technologists, ultrasound technicians and, in some cases, surgical residents. This is in alignment with one of Inova’s values: ONE TEAM: “We are stronger together as a unified healthcare system, enriched by our diversity and driven by a shared purpose”.

For our new perioperative nursing colleagues’ orientation, they are assigned a primary and secondary nurse preceptor. Our senior certified nurses, who have progressed through multiple roles including: circulator, scrub nurse, RNFA and expanded RNFA, are designated as mentors and clinical resources to support each dyad through the orientation journey.

There is also a Unit Based Council Professional Development sub-committee that is responsible for peer-to-peer support and mentoring for individuals seeking certification.


Through endless support, recognition, encouragement, and leadership, IHVI-CVOR exemplifies the standard for the TrueNorth Award and has paved the way for future facilities to showcase the importance of certification. Their dedication to certification helps guide their staff to be lifelong learners, models of competent practice, and advocates for excellence and patient safety.

Congratulations to the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiovascular OR for going above and beyond for their nurses, patients, and community!


2023 Special Commendations

In addition to our 2023 TrueNorth recipient, we also had several facilities that stood out to the evaluation committee and earned the Compass Award, in recognition of Superior Performance for TrueNorth Criteria. 

  • 2023 Compass Award- Navy Medical Readiness and Training Command Camp Pendleton

  • 2023 Compass Award- Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital

  • 2023 Compass Award- North Kansas City Hospital

  • 2023 Compass Award- Greenwich Hospital

Receive an Email When 2024 Applications Open!


Topics: TrueNorth