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The Importance and Recognition of Hyperbaric Certification for Technicians and Nurses

Why get certified?

It is the position of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) Associate Council (AC) that all operators, technicians and nurses who oversee hyperbaric oxygen therapy should achieve hyperbaric certification, that is: CHS (Certified Hyperbaric Specialist), CHWS (Certified Hyperbaric & Wound Care Specialist), CHT (Certified Hyperbaric Technologist), CHRN (Certified Hyperbaric Nurse), ACHRN (Advanced Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse) and CHRNC (Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse Clinician).[1][2]

According to the UHMS, many hyperbaric facilities have technicians and nurses who have not achieved certification, nor have they attended an approved 40-hour hyperbaric specific introductory course. In addition, there is not a consistent minimum standard of who can become certified by the various hyperbaric certifying bodies.[1]

Hyperbaric certification is important, as the certification process leads to enhanced patient safety, knowledge, skills, and practice. 

The UHMS AC formally recognizes those who obtained the certifications mentioned above AND met the minimum standards as set below [1]:

  • Each technician or nurse should attend a NBDHMT (National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology), UHMS, or ACHM (American College of Hyperbaric Medicine) face-to-face approved 40 Hour Introductory Hyperbaric Medicine course and achieve hyperbaric certification within 18 months or less of starting work in a hyperbaric environment
  • The certified individual should maintain the primary licensure/certification within their scope of practice or be signed off by their supervising physician (i.e., non-licensed Medical Assistants)
  • The certified individual must have the following minimal skill sets and annual competencies to effectively manage patients safely during hyperbaric treatment: Basic Life Support (BLS), taking Vital Signs (BP, Pulse, Respirations, Pulse Ox, & Pain level), Blood Glucose,& safely perform Patient Transfers
  • The certified individual continually stays proficient and knowledgeable of the hyperbaric field of medicine by maintaining 12 hyperbaric specific CEUs annually
  • Nurses should be certified through the BNACB (Baromedical Nurses Association Certification Board) to consistently align with nursing best practices

Recertification and Continuing Education Requirements 

Certified Hyperbaric Technologists (CHTs) by the NBDHMT

  • Certification is awarded for a period of 2 years [3]
  • Besides other clinical work requirements, CHTs must present proof of a minimum of 24 (minimum of 12 Category “A”) continuing education (CE) hours during the prior 2 years.[3]
  • Of note, at least 12 CE must be "Category A", defined as education and training directly related to the practice of undersea, hyperbaric or hypobaric medicine.[3]
    • Of these 12 credits, at least 9 (75%) must relate to ‘core competency’, namely technical, operational and safety aspects of the hyperbaric/hypobaric delivery system.
    • If not all of the 24 hours are Category A, the balance can be made up with Category B credits. These are defined as those programs and courses that provide more generalized information  related to allied health care professional knowledge and skills. Examples include BLS and ACLS certification/recertification, clinical practice and compliance updates, emerging technologies,  potential new uses, etc. Example:
      • Option 1: 24 Category A Credits satisfies renewal requirements
      • Option 2: 12 Category A Credits & 12 Category B credits likewise satisfies renewal requirements
    • CHT’s who present at meetings where CE’s are offered are also eligible for credits. For a Poster Presentation two (2) credits are awarded (‘A’ or  ‘B’, depending upon the topic). For an Oral  Presentation, regardless of length, six (6) ‘A’ or ‘B’ credits are award.

Certified Hyperbaric Nurses (CHRN, ACHRN, CHRNC) by the NBDHMT and the BNA

  • Certification is awarded for a period of 4 years [2]
  • During the previous 4 years, besides other requirements, hyperbaric nurses must complete [2]
    • Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurses (CHRN): 40 hours of continuing education credits (hours), with at least 20 of those credits in the field of hyperbaric oxygen therapy - Category A. 
    • Advanced Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurses (ACHRN): 60 hours of continuing education credits (hours) per previous four years, with at least 30 of those credits in the field of hyperbaric oxygen therapy - Category A. 
    • Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse Clinician (CHRNC): 60 hours of continuing education credits (hours) per previous four years, with at least 30 of those credits in the field of hyperbaric oxygen therapy - Category A.
  • Of note, Category A credits must be directly related to undersea, hyperbaric or aviation medicine. [2]
    • CE submitted must be approved by a [2]:   
      • a. Professional organization such as the BNA, the UHMS, ACHM, NBDHMT, Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society, Association for the Advancement of Wound Care, etc.     
      • b. State Nursing Practice Board    

Where can Category A Continuing Education Credits be obtained?

Resources

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