Nominate a Top Nurse for a 2023 BCEN Distinguished Award 

Nominate a Top Nurse for a 2023 BCEN Distinguished Award 

Nominate a nurse for a 2023 BCEN Distinguished Award, which honors top board-certified RNs for their commitment to excellence in five emergency nursing specialties:

  • adult/mixed emergency
  • pediatric emergency
  • flight
  • critical care ground transport
  • trauma

The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing sponsors the annual Distinguished Awards for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). Approximately 50,000 RNs worldwide hold a BCEN nursing specialty credential, with over 40,000 holding the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN).

BCEN’s Distinguished Awards are open to RNs across the U.S. and worldwide who hold any of BCEN’s five nursing specialty credentials. Nominees can be bedside nurses and/or serving as a nurse leader, educator, professional development, administrator, research, or military roles. Nurses may self-nominate or be nominated by a colleague, a supervisor, or their organization.

“Recognizing the excellence and extraordinary commitment of board-certified nurses is one of the most important things we do,” says BCEN CEO Janie Schumaker, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, CENP, CPHQ, FABC. “We encourage nurses, leaders, and employers to nominate a deserving emergency, trauma, or transport nurse for one of BCEN’s Distinguished Awards.”

Nominations are being accepted through March 15, 2023, for the following awards:

  • 2023 Distinguished CEN Award (adult/mixed emergency)
  • 2023 Distinguished CPEN Award (pediatric emergency)
  • 2023 Distinguished CFRN Award (flight)
  • 2023 Distinguished CTRN Award (critical care ground transport)
  • 2023 Distinguished TCRN Award (trauma)

The 2023 BCEN Distinguished Award honorees will be selected based on (1) their commitment to specialty-certified clinical excellence and professionalism in their nursing practice or role and (2) their leadership and innovation in supporting and advancing nursing specialty-certification and specialty-certified nursing care. Visit the BCEN awards page for complete details and eligibility criteria.

The nomination window for the 2023 BCEN National Certification Champion Award, which recognizes organizations for their commitment to nursing excellence across the emergency spectrum, opens June 1.

Winners will receive a one-year all-access pass to the award-winning BCEN Learn continuing education platform (valued at $2,500), including the entire library of high-interactivity advanced CE courses plus all games, practice exams, and BCEN Learn Live on-demand conference proceedings.

Go here to submit your nominee by Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. CDT.

Emergency Nurses: Steady in Chaos

Emergency Nurses: Steady in Chaos

Nurses are lauded for their calm and focused manner when everything around them is erupting, but emergency nurses bring this laser focus to their jobs every day. Emergency Nurses Week (October 9-15) calls attention to this specialty as a career and to express gratitude for nurses working in emergency departments nationwide.

Emergency nursing is, by design, performed quickly and carefully to help patients who may be experiencing a life-threatening trauma or even those who visit the emergency department for a routine health issue. Nurses who work in this environment need rapid-fire assessment skills to help prioritize critical cases, particularly those where an obvious cause of the issue isn’t present. This particular work may not be something every nurse enjoys or thrives in, but for those who do, it’s particularly satisfying.

Emergency nurses work within a specialty, but that specialty encompasses nearly every possible area of nursing. Because anyone can come to the emergency department with virtually any symptom, and they depend on the medical team to treat even symptoms that are vague, emergency nurses have to know about many conditions, symptoms, medications, and injuries. They might, in a typical day, treat an infant or a 90-year-old, see multiple victims of a car crash or a worker who fell from a ladder, encounter someone with pregnancy complications or a person having an undetermined medication reaction. Emergency nurses frequently help patients who are in a psychiatric crisis as well. And many patients who come to the emergency department are stressed and agitated so emergency nurses must develop an approach toward patients that is both compassionate and in control.

If that sounds like an appealing challenge, then emergency nursing might be a terrific career path. After academic preparation, emergency nurses should gain myriad skills by working on different units. They should try to work with patients of all ages and with different health conditions to build a good foundation of skills from which to draw when needed in any given situation. Talk with emergency nurses to ask questions and look into the Emergency Nurses Association for resources about this field.

Gaining more experience will be a benefit–both because it helps nurses decide if this career path fits their interests and skills and because it will build the skills they need to help others. They will need to know how to treat catastrophic injuries or a heart attack one day and a person experiencing intense pain with no apparent cause the next, so an emergency nurse’s critical thinking skills must be sharp as they will need to triage patients constantly and in accordance with changing conditions.

After being in the field, gaining emergency nursing certification through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing will equip you with the additional knowledge needed to be a leader in emergency nursing. Although it is recommended that nurses who sit for the certification exam have two years of emergency nursing experience, it’s not a requirement; however, experience boosts your ability to pass and score well on the exam. And be sure to take the practice exams online as part of your study and preparation schedule as it will help you become familiar with the process and the types of questions.

And if you’re already an emergency nurse who is helping patients every day, thank you for all you do! Take some time this week to reflect on the people you help and the lives you have touched–and even how each of those people have touched your life as well.

Emergency Nurses Week in a Continuing Pandemic

Emergency Nurses Week in a Continuing Pandemic

October 10 kicks of a celebration of the work emergency nurses do with Emergency Nurses Week. In the past year and a half, emergency nurses have faced a pandemic and the overwhelming care needs of a staggering patient load. Frequently, emergency nurses are the initial care provider for people who have COVID-19 symptoms, and they have taken on a care caseload filled with some of the sickest patients these nurses have ever encountered.

Emergency nurses are needed more than ever. As pandemic cases continue to rise and fall and as patients who put off needed care are presenting with even more advanced needs, emergency nurses are in perpetual demand.

As the need for their skills rises, emergency nurses are especially prone to exhaustion and burnout. Taking care of themselves becomes a low priority when the demands of the job are so high, so continual, and so overwhelming. If running to the bathroom is considered a break, how can emergency nurses be expected to keep up the pace?

And while there’s no magic potion to improve the work balance (let alone a work-life balance), nurses can be aware of doing whatever they can to make life any easier right now. And remembering that eventually, this impossible time will pass.

Take Shortcuts

With an unrelenting job, nurses need to let themselves take shortcuts when they can. Buying premade meals or getting groceries delivered saves time and effort that are in short supply. The shortcut doesn’t have to lead to unhealthy choices. Focus on foods that give you the biggest nutritional bang for the buck. Prepared salads, cooked veggies, chopped fruit, and grilled meats are great choices. And when you’re too tired to even think about eating, a comforting soup–pureed or hearty–with bread and cheese will fill you up and nourish you.

Get Help

Asking for help is often a nurse’s Achilles heel. After giving so much care, nurses are reluctant to admit they need some help. Whether it’s childcare, elder care, transportation, or mental health care,  a little assistance can make your life easier–and that can make the world of difference. Even connecting with other nurses through an organization like the Emergency Nurses Association can give you the support you’re seeking.

Find the Joy

For many nurses, there’s been less joy this year. As waves of patients remain high, the emotional toll on nurses and healthcare workers is evident. Keep yourself going by finding the small joys in your day. A great playlist, a funny podcast, a movie that lets you escape (even if it takes five sessions to watch because you keep falling asleep), or even the softest socks that soothe your aching feet at the end of the day are good choices. Bonus points if it requires no extra effort and double bonus points if it’s something you can look forward to.

During Emergency Nurses Week, honor those who work in this demanding specialty. And if you are an emergency nurse, thank you for all you are doing!



BCEN Celebrates 40 Years of the CEN

BCEN Celebrates 40 Years of the CEN

Milestones are a big deal, and they are often times of celebration. Throughout July, that’s exactly what the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) has done. This month marks the 40th of the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) as well as of the emergency nursing specialty certification. What makes this all even more significant is that the CEN was the first emergency nursing specialty certification offered anywhere in the world.

“As emergency medicine was becoming recognized as a specialty, emergency nurses formed the Emergency Department Nurses Association (today’s Emergency Nurses Association) and in the mid- to late-1970s recognized the need for a certification program for emergency nurses. Thanks to the forethought and efforts of the association and some extraordinary nurse-pioneers, the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) came into being and several years after its creation was purposefully separated from the professional association to become a fully independent certification body,” explains Janie Schumaker, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, CENP, CPHA, FABC, the Executive Director of BCEN, which is based in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Taking that first CEN exam was much different than it is today. “During BCEN’s first full year of operations in 1980, the very first emergency certification exam was offered on July 19 at over 30 sites around the country, including Alaska,” says Schumaker. “More than 1,400 RNs took the four-hour, 250-item, pencil-and-paper exam. After waiting several weeks for notification by mail, 1,274 nurses received the news that they had passed and became the first RNs to earn the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential.

“While BCEN has operated independently from ENA for many decades, we support each other and strongly believe professional membership and board certification are both important for RN success and to advance nursing excellence across every nursing specialty.”

Two years later, in 1982, that number of nurses who held the CEN had increased to 6,000. By 2005, 23,000 nurses held a CEN. By the end of 2020, BCEN expects to have 40,000 CENs.

“As the years went by and emergency nursing knowledge and patient care needs evolved, for instance with the introduction of medevac flights and taking into the consideration the unique physiology of pediatric patients, BCEN developed and introduced certification programs for flight nurses, the Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN®) in 1993, the Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN®) in 2006 for critical care ground transport nurses, and the Certified Pediatric Registered Nurse (CPEN®) in 2009. BCEN’s newest certification, introduced a little over 4 years ago (in 2016) is the Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN®) for nurses who practice across the trauma continuum from prehospital care to rehabilitation and including injury prevention. This is our fastest growing certification program, which is not surprising given that trauma is a major public health issue affecting people of all ages,” says Schumaker.

And BCEN keeps making sure that nurses can learn more. This past May, it began offering its first certificate program BCEN EDvantage.

Schumaker, a certified nurse, says that she is sure the skills she learned through becoming certified saved lives. “Once the connection between my knowledge, the care I was providing, and the correlation to studying for the Certified Emergency Nurses exam was clear to me, I became a lifelong certification advocate. I have since become certified in other areas of practice that have been a part of my career. Certification has helped ensure I have the knowledge and expertise to do the best possible job in my given role,” says Schumaker. “To me that is huge because I want to be a strong contributor and make a difference.”

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Today Marks the 30th Anniversary of Emergency Nurses Day

Today Marks the 30th Anniversary of Emergency Nurses Day

Today marks an important milestone for emergency nurses across the country—the 30th anniversary of a national Emergency Nurses Day. The day falls in the middle of national Emergency Nurses Week which runs October 6-12 this year.

The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) started the tradition back in 1989, long before many of the medical advances in emergency medicine that we take for granted today. But a few things haven’t changed in 30 years. Emergency nurses’ dedication to high-quality patient care in a turbulent, fast-paced, and unpredictable environment remains the foundation of an emergency department’s success.

ED nurses are the ones patients see when they are least expecting it. A trip to the ED is often the most unplanned healthcare situation and is scary for many patients. Emergency nurses use all their nursing skills to assess, diagnose, and care for people who could be in their care for anything from severe trauma from an accident to an injury from a fall to trouble breathing from flu symptoms. They must assess quickly and accurately patients of all ages, demographics, and even those who may be unable to communicate what’s wrong. The pace is rapid and constant.

According to the ENA website, 43,000 members of the association are vocal advocates for emergency department care. They are trained in “triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care.” Emergency nurses are RNs and they can also obtain credentials as an emergency nurse practitioner certification (ENP-BC). The American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners also offers excellent resources for nursing students or anyone interested in this career path.

Emergency nurses care for patients in their care, but what they do has wide impact. They are also persistent advocates for policies that will protect their patients and also protect those in the profession. In a time when workplace violence against nurses is rising and adding another level of complexity to being an ED nurse, policies and protections are essential to letting nurses continue to offer the level of care their patients need while keeping themselves safe from harm.

Because of the higher levels of stress and the endless trauma they deal with, ED nurses are at particular risk for burnout, stress, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Healthcare organizations that promote wellness and self-care and that make mental health care a priority for nurses in workplaces that routinely deal with trauma cases will build a healthier nursing staff.

But ED nurses also take great satisfaction from being able to help ill or injured patients and offer resources and comfort to their families. They keep their entire suite of nursing skills in use throughout each shift, because they never know what each day will bring. To say the job is never dull is an understatement.

So for all the emergency nurses, this week it’s all about you and all you do to help patients get through their medical emergency and for the ways you offer support to your colleagues in the ED.