BCEN Updates

Meet Tonya Barnard: BCEN’s 2020 Distinguished CFRN Award Winner

On April 16, BCEN was pleased to announce the 2020 Distinguished CFRN Award winner: Pafford Air One flight nurse Tonya Barnard, BSN, RN, CEN, CFRN, CCRN, CTRN, CPEN, TCRN, EMT-B!

Based in Ruston, Louisiana, Tonya flies on a Bell 407 helicopter running a nurse/paramedic team that responds to scene and inter-facility transports for trauma and medical patients. Tonya was nominated by her base manager, Jeff Atkins.


Tell us how you became interested in flight nursing.  

Before I graduated nursing school, I didn’t know that nurses could fly … until I attended a Landing Zone class for the local volunteer fire department. I knew immediately that flight nursing was made for me. When I landed an interview for the emergency room at our local Level II Trauma Center, I knew that job would get me a lot of experience until I could meet the requirements to fly.


After two years of working in the emergency room, I started studying for my CEN. I took and passed it, landing me a “third ride” opportunity with Pafford Air One. That’s when I met our current base lead, Jeff Atkins. He was a key influencer in my life on becoming a flight nurse. Our SVP/COO, Keith Carter, laid out the framework of what I needed to achieve to become a flight nurse for Pafford.


How did you come to earn not just the CFRN but all five BCEN certifications?

As I gained that valuable ER experience and worked toward being a flight nurse, I completed the ACLS, PALS, TNCC and ENPC and earned the CEN and CFRN. While I waited for a position to open at Pafford, Keith challenged me to obtain the CCRN and CTRN. I also took the NRP course and became an EMT-B. My hospital was providing a review class and reimbursing for the CPEN, so of course, I had to get that. This was also about the time that BCEN came out with the TCRN. I was able to be part of the beta testing and found out a few weeks later I passed.


What inspired you to help other nurses earn the CFRN?

Studying for the CFRN helped me learn a ton of information that I could use even while working in the ED. Once I had my CFRN and put the information into practice, I felt it was my duty to help others. I help nurses obtain resources, give them test-taking tips, and help them schedule their tests. I also help teach a review class that my air program puts on, called C4, that prepares people for FPC, CCP, CFRN, and CCRN. While visiting with different hospitals or EMS services, I try to talk with the nurses and paramedics about continuing their education and obtaining specialty certifications to better themselves and increase their knowledge. I also became my base’s Base Clinical Lead, where I’m responsible for educating my fellow co-workers on new information, procedures, and treatments.


Why is the CFRN important to your work and career? Why is board certification for RNs valuable in general?

Our medical director gives us advanced but flexible protocols that allows us to make our own real-time decisions in patient care. Having the CFRN gives him and our other management the confidence that we will be able to perform to the best of our abilities. Obtaining the CFRN was a big confidence booster for me personally, because it gives me the assurance that I know the information I studied and learned. Even after obtaining my dream job, I have not stopped learning. Board certification for RNs is valuable to give nurses that same confidence. Displaying it proudly on a badge or nametag also gives patients the confidence that their nurse “knows their stuff.”

What does this award mean to you?

Receiving the BCEN Distinguished CFRN Award is one of the highlights of my professional career. Knowing there are hundreds out there who deserve this award gives me pride in not only myself but my family, friends, and coworkers who encourage me to be my best. I hope achieving this award opens more doors for me to help others learn and obtain BCEN certifications.


Read what Pafford Air One SVP/COO Keith Carter and Base Manager Jeff Atkins had to say about Tonya here.