40 Years of BCEN: Your Story is Our Story

Group of nurses walking

We can’t tell our story without telling yours.

For 40 years, BCEN has been an advocate for certified nursing. We’ve also been a voice for board certified nurses. Now, we’re using that voice to tell the stories of the last four decades — your story, our story. But our story won’t be complete without your chapter. Help us tell the story of certified nursing by clicking above to submit your story.

When the Line Between Nurse and Loved One is Blurred

Sometimes as a nurse ... the unthinkable happens. You find yourself on the other side of the tragedy. For Juli Verkler, that day occurred 17 years ago.

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A Q&A with BCEN Volunteer Brody Eick, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, CCRN, TCRN

BCEN talks with Brody Eick about the value of certification, how he advocates for it, and supports his fellow nurses.

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I have been a nurse for almost 26 years. 20 of those years have been in emergency medicine. I never doubted my skills and knowledge ... until one day I thought to myself, "why not take that exam and get certified?" I am so glad I did. It's something to be proud to wear as a Board Certified Emergency Nurse. My organization provides a stipend for being certified, but I am in it for the prestige and improvement of quality of care. - Benjamin Veloso, CEN

A Virtual Hospital Visit with ProMedica

BCEN had the pleasure of a virtual meeting with the leadership team from ProMedica in Toledo, OH on Zoom. Read about their journey to certified success!

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I started in the ED in 1981 and remember the first time I took the CEN back in 1983. I had no clue what to study, so I took every magazine and book that I had and read anything I could find that had to do with ED nursing. I went to the city of Raleigh to take the test with my manager ... I passed! I did feel bad because she did not. I took that test three more times until you could use CEs to recertify. When I moved to Virginia Beach in 1985 I was so impressed with the people I was working with ... except none of them had their CEN! Now, I encourage everyone to get their certification. We are compensated in our organization for certifications, but it is personal gratification that means the most to me. I plan on recertifying one more time before I finally retire my credential with my career. I still have all of my commemorative items from past BCEN breakfasts. Thanks for all you do for Emergency Nursing!- Pat O'Donnell, CEN

If at First You Don’t Succeed … A Q&A with CEN Jordan Seifert

Jordan's journey to certification was no walk in the park. Read about the challenges she faced and how she finally overcame the odds to achieve her CEN!

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I knew from an early age that I was destined to be in the medical field. I felt a duty to help those kids that got hurt in the neighborhood. I read books to learn how to dress wounds and make a sling out of scarves; I kept gauze in my pocket just in case someone scraped a knee. I studied for and passed the NR-EMT in my 20s but was not able to keep working as an EMT due to low pay with a daughter on the way. After 16 years of construction, I finally decided to chase the dream one more t time. Two years later I was a licensed RN practicing in the ED where I belonged! After 10 years in the ED and ICU ... I wanted more knowledge. The deeper I got into my field the more I realized I didn't know. Last year I began studying for the CEN, which is a learning process in itself. Learning more information about emergency medicine changed my practice for the better. I passed the CEN last year and am so proud. Now, my sites are set even higher. I'm studying for the CFRN to begin a new chapter of care in my life working on a flight crew. - Austin Chapin, CEN

BCEN EDvantage Program Takes Off with Rick Yadon

BCEN’s first EDvantage certificate holder, Rick Yadon, did not take a “traditional” path to a career in emergency nursing. Read more about his experience in healthcare, his journey to emergency nursing, and his thoughts on the BCEN EDvantage certificate program!

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The Other Side of the Tragedy ...

When you spend every day supervising the Emergency Department, you do what you need to do to get the job done. You never prepare for being on the other side of a tragedy that changes your entire life.

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Chad Garner, CEN

Read how Chad Garner went from a new graduate in his second career to Director of Nursing over the Emergency Department in less than 10 years!

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Today, more than ever, I am grateful for all of the support provided to my peers and I by BCEN. Being a CEN and CPEN, I felt well prepared and confidently joined our colleagues in my state's response efforts. These certifications are of great value to me for so many reasons and I am extremely proud to have earned them. These achievements were a personal indicator that I had truly earned them. These achievements were a personal indicator that I had truly earned the designations and my confidence as a clinician was enhanced. Obtaining these certifications also allowed me to further grow and develop as an ED nurse, which then proved vital to my transition into leadership and educator roles. There are many certified nurses working with our interdisciplinary partners to remain strong and provide compassion to the patients we care for. Personally, these certifications have allowed me to follow through with my commitment to pursuing a career based on continuous learning and refinement.- Timothy Higgins, CEN, CPEN

BCEN History

Check out a brief overview of BCEN's robust history!

BCEN's History

Happy 40th to the CEN® & Emergency Nursing Certification!

July 2020 is a very special month in BCEN’s history and the history of emergency nursing, because it marks the 40th birthday of both the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) and emergency nursing specialty certification. Check out the highlights of BCEN's robust history!

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A Q&A with Trauma Manager, Army Reservist and Father of Four, Ray Staggs, RN, TCRN

What has nursing during the pandemic looked like for father of four, 28-year Army Reservist and North Kansas City Hospital trauma program manager Capt. Ray Staggs, RN, TCRN? This Father’s Day, he’s grateful to be home safe and sound with his family after his unit was deployed to a COVID unit at Stamford Health in Stamford, CT. 

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I transitioned into the emergency department after 10 years of critical care when the ICU in my facility was shut down by administration. The emergency department has been my safe haven for the last 6 years. I have had my CCRN for a long time and wanted to take the CEN. I love learning and how our profession offers us many opportunities to learn something new and improve the care we provide to our patients. I love combining my two passions: critical care and emergency medicine!- Maria Perez, CEN

Just Another Day at the Office: A Nurses Perspective of Adapting to a Pandemic

What does “a day at the office” look like for a nurse working during a global pandemic? Cynthia Martinez, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, returns to give us her perspective in BCEN’s most recent story.

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I am a second-generation CEN. My mother has been an Emergency Department RN since the 70s. I became an RN in 1998, with the hopes of becoming an ED RN just like her. In January 2000 my dream came true and I started as an ED RN! I recently got a job outside of the ED, but still work there per diem because I will always be an ED RN at heart.- Katherine Torregrossa, CEN

A Nurse's Perspective with Cynthia Martinez, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN

Cynthia Martinez, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, out of Easton, PA gives us her perspective on the trials and tribulations of being a nurse… and why she could never see herself doing anything else.

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A Q&A with CFRN/CTRN ECRC volunteer Graham Newton, BN, RN, CFRN, CTRN, EMPT-P

Graham is one of our amazing volunteers. He resides in Alberta, Canada and travels to the US to sit on our CFRN/CTRN Exam Construction Review Committee. This committee is responsible for review, revision, and approval of items before they become part of the exam. We wanted to sit down with him to hear his perspective as a BCEN volunteer during National Volunteer Appreciation Week...

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Board certifications are a vital tool for individuals to jump-start your career and launch yourself into the higher echelons of patient care. I enjoy being able to show off my BCEN certifications for each of my individual practice specialties. I am convinced this shows a distinctive passion and discipline for continuing education and professional accountability. Earning these certifications is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I encourage all of you to get in the game and become CERTIFIED!- Robert P. Harris, CEN, CFRN, CPEN, CTRN, TCRN
When I was in nursing school I did my senior rotation in the ED. I always wanted to be an ED RN. I finally got the opportunity 13 years later. I had a goal on my evaluation to become certified. I took a review course, took the test, and passed! Becoming certified was the next step in my ED nursing career. I have always had a passion to make a difference in patients' lives, and becoming certified I believe made me stronger!- Debbie Sanchez, CEN

Certified Internationally... Shamsa Al Bulushi BSN, MSN, CEN

Shamsa was the first certified nurse in Oman. Now, her goal is to improve emergency services in her country by helping her colleagues get certified!

Read Her Story
I started my career as a tech in the ED. Seeing all the hard work and dedication of the nurses, I knew I found my calling ... and I never looked back! After being a nurse for several years I became the Emergency Medical Services for Children coordinator in my state working on a federal grant ... while also working in the ED. I joined a federal disaster medical assistance team (DAMT) and became a supervisory nurse. I also instruct CPR, ACLS, PALS and ENPC. In 2015, I left the ED and became a transport nurse at the state children's hospital. When I am not on a transport, I help in the ED and on all units. I am beyond proud to be an Emergency Nurse!- Wendy Wheeler, CEN, CPEN
Starting in the ER 3 years ago, straight out of nursing school, was scary and exciting! I knew right away that I needed to obtain as many certifications as I could to acquire more knowledge and apply that knowledge to my practice. I obtained all required certification within 2 years. After that, I was advised to take things to the next level with my CEN. I worked night shifts at the time and stayed up all night studying for two months in preparation. I was thrilled to have passed after spending so much of my personal time preparing for the test! I was so proud of myself for becoming a stronger, smarter emergency nurse. Currently, I'm the only nurse in my department with a CEN and I'm encouraging the other nurses to follow suit.- Hannah Cory, CEN

BCEN's Certified Superstars

A few elite nurses hold all 5 BCEN certifications. Read about their stories and why they chose to hold all 5 certifications.

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Louise Hummel... Certified for 40 Years

When Louise Hummel changed positions in the hospital to become an Emergency Department nurse, she had no idea how her life would change.

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Joan Somes, CEN since 1980- Taking the CEN exam was nerve-wracking. Only the sound of pages turning and pencils scratching in the answers. It took several weeks to find out the results. I passed! No matter how hard those questions were, I now could tell people "I can prove I know what I need to know to be an emergency nurse!" I have taken the test every 4 years since, and I proud to know that I still know what I need to know to be an emergency nurse and am proud of it.

A Q&A with one of the original Certified Emergency Nurses

Learn about what it was like to sit for the first CEN exam, why she's maintained it for so many years, and her take on the value of being a certified nurse!

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Top 5 Self-Care Tips for Nurses

Encouraging you to take care of yourself is something we’re passionate about. As nurses, you may often find yourself preaching self-care to your patients and neglecting to do it yourself. Check out these 5 hot tips, specific to you, to ensure you are always at your best!

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When I started nursing 7 years ago I never thought I would work in the emergency department. Now, after being in the ED for 4 years, I have become a PreHospital RN and obtained my CEN and can't imagine doing anything else. Working from both the PreHospital and hospital sides of the emergency patient experience has really opened my eyes to all the good we do as providers and I'm excited to continue to learn and grow in this field. - Meaghan Hainzer, CEN
Florence Fricke RN, BSN, MSN, MBA, CEN... One of the First Certified Nurses- I have been certified since first exam and remember it was a pencil and paper exam and had to wait for results by mail. I wanted to become certified for many reasons but mostly it was a personal goal. It was a way to review material and to show myself I could still learn from testing. As the years went on it was a recognition by employers that kept me going. Most places I worked did not pay for the exam which didn’t stop me from continuing. I am currently certified till end of 2020 and will be finally be retiring my credentials. At 74 I am grateful for the knowledge gained in reviewing and taking the exam. I have held many positions over the years but my ER time gave me the most satisfaction. Thank you for the opportunities

She swore she'd never date a paramedic ...

and look what happened! Jennifer and Doug's paths had crossed multiple times, but they didn't really know each other. Thanks to the wonderful invention of Facebook, Doug was able to shoot his shot ... and land the ED nurse of his dreams! Check out more amazing stories of love blossoming in the ED.

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How working in the ED led me to my sweetheart
I worked on a small community hospital for 10 years, I reached my maximum capacity of learning at that hospital. In order to progress to my next goal, and move on to a magnet hospital, passing the CEN was a must!! I am also a mentor for new nurses. Being eager to learn is a great example for the new generation of nurses!- Jumana Baluom, CEN
I was an ED nurse for 8.5 years before I was ever encouraged, approached, or told "Hey, you should try to get certified." It was not something the nurse leaders around me did, therefore I never did. But thank goodness I met a group of ED nurse leaders that challenged me to become certified. Clearly, it worked! In the last 3 years, I have obtained my CEN, TCRN and CPEN. The more you know, the better your patient outcomes will be. The proof is established in the engagement and improved outcomes that certified ED nurses bring to their patients and teams. This is my "certified" story.- Hollye Briggs, CEN, CPEN, TCRN
Janet Spellman, Certified Since 1980

Certified for 40 Years...

After 40 years of being a Certified Emergency Nurse, Janet M. Spellman has had quite a career. She was one of the first nurses to sit for the original CEN exam in July 1980 and became an Item Writers shortly after. She has continued to maintain her CEN for 40 years because of the value and knowledge it has brought to her life. Her biggest piece of advice? Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. And once you’ve done that, create your own opportunities. Read the full article to learn more about her career and her advice to new nurses!

Read Janet's Story
“I have been a nurse for 43 years, and I have worked in the same ED in Philadelphia for all 43 years. When I took the first CEN exam that summer of 1980, it was on paper. And I remember a group of us carpooled to the exam. There have been so many changes in nursing over the years. I continue to recertify because I feel the need to while I continue to work in the ED.”- Joan Puzycki, CEN since 1980
Geri Nigro, Certified Since 1980

“Emergency nursing is always changing – you have to stay on top of it to be successful.”

Geri Nigro sat for the very first CEN exam in 1980 and she continues to sit for the exam to recertify her CEN every 4 years. She believes studying for the exam keeps her up-to-date on best practices and relevant topics in her field. Read more about Geri and why she and so many other nurses get recertified.

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“I use both the Support Your Nurse and Nurse Recognition Kit all the time. I love them because I know they provide our nurses with the information, support and encouragement they need to be their best. The entire process is so easy and our nurses have expressed how much they appreciate having all the certification information in one place. The kits encourage and enable our nurses to achieve excellence in their field, demonstrating the proficiency and knowledge our communities and patients depend on daily.”- Jennifer Baldwin, Clinical Administrative Assistant, Life Flight Network