BCEN Updates

CFRN History: 30 Years of Certified Flight Nursing Excellence

Walk Back Through CFRN History: 30 Years of Certified Flight Nursing Excellence

Walk back with us through the history of the CFRN … and see the handshake in front of the White House that helped usher in three decades of flight nursing excellence.


June 2023

In honor of the CFRN’s 30th anniversary, the cover of the July/August 2023 Air Medical Journal features a photo of BCEN’s 2023 Distinguished CFRN. Additional CFRN commemorative images and historical notes are featured inside the cover. The issue includes the original research article, “The 2022 Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) Pulse Survey.”

BCEN 2023 Distinguished CFRN Stacey Dock on the cover of Air Medical Journal.
©Air Medical Journal Associates

April 2023

The first ever value of certification study focused on the CFRN flight nursing credential—The 2022 Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) Pulse Survey—publishes online as an Air Medical Journal original research article (with free access through 2023), and will appear in the July/August print issue. Nearly 1,000 CFRNs participated in the study.

January 2023

CAMTS 12th edition accreditation standards publish, and for the first time, require RNs to hold a transport-specific credential.

“Current transport specific nursing certification (CFRN or CTRN) pertinent to the scope of care and patient population (such as C-NPT for teams that transport neonatal or pediatric patients) required for nurses who have been employed for more than 2 years.

[CAMTS will continue to accept non-transport specific advanced nursing certification as meeting the standard until January 1, 2025. Programs not in compliance by that time must have a written plan to assure all critical care transport nurses acquire a transport specific advance certification.]”

CAMTS 12th edition, p. 64

December 2022

The number of CFRNs tops 5,500. With an annual average growth rate of 9% over the past decade, the number of CFRNs has more than doubled since 2012.

September 2021 

The number of CFRNs tops 5,000.


BCEN’s 2019 Transport Nursing Role Delineation Study results in an updated CFRN exam content outline, exam form and passing score that go into effect on August 31. The study points up the unique aspects of flight nursing versus ground transport nursing, and for the first time, there will be separate exam content outlines and test item banks for the CFRN and CTRN.

BCEN 2021 Distinguished CFRN Kevin Kissner

July 2021

The BCEN 2021 Distinguished CFRN is featured on the cover of AirMed&Rescue and in this interview.

Image courtesy of Virginia State Police

January 2021

BCEN proudly offers U.S. military RNs and APRNs a discount on initial certification, retesting and recertification for all of its certification programs including the CFRN. Active-duty service members, reservists and veterans are eligible.


BCEN debuts a new CFRN badge and certification seal. The number of CFRNs tops 4,000.


In “Education and Certification for Patient Transport,” CAMTS Executive Director Eileen Frazer and Reneé Holleran highlight the importance of continuing education and certification for flight and ground transport RNs. The number of CFRNs tops 3,000.

February 2009

The CFRN® becomes a Magnet®-accepted certification program.

September 2007

The CFRN® certification program is accredited by the ABSNC, and is subsequently reaccredited in 2012, 2017 and 2022.

Fall 2004

BCEN makes Internet-based CFRN testing available.


Angela Golden is the recipient of BCEN’s annual Distinguished CFRN Award.


ASTNA publishes “Transport Nurse Certification,” the first of several ASTNA position papers advocating for specialty certification in critical care transport nursing and describing RNs’ core role in providing patient care in the out-of-hospital environment.



For the first time, RNs sitting for the CFRN exam get their results immediately and exams are now offered monthly.

February 1994

Another 164 nurses sit for and pass the second offering of the CFRN exam. Read their names in this October 1994 Air Medical Journal news article.


January 1994

Flight nurse Reneé Holleran’s editorial, “Flight Nursing Certification: A Dream Come True,” publishes in the Air Medical Journal.

“Certification in flight nursing assures the patients we treat and the organizations we work for that flight nurses have acquired a specific body of knowledge related to their practice and are able to render competent flight nursing care. … Flight nursing is an integral component of the provision of health care. Certification offers flight nurses a means of demonstrating to both public and professionals that what we do is unique.”

October 1993

The names of the world’s first CFRNs—all 403 of them—publish in the Air Medical Journal article, “Congratulations New CFRNs.”

July 1993

BCEN launches the CFRN® (Certified Flight Registered Nurse) certification program. 507 nurses sit for the first exam on July 24, 1993. The pen-and-paper exam is next offered on February 1994, and will be offered just twice a year.

BCEN’s original CFRN certification logo, used from 1993-2018.

March 1993

NFNA’s position paper, “Specialized Certification Program for Flight Nurses,” appears in Air Medical Journal.

“NFNA endorses attaining the CFRN credential for all flight nurses. NFNA believes that the CFRN credential should be incorporated into professional advancement models and be recognized, supported and valued by institutions as the certification credential for nursing practicing in air medical settings.”

Early 1990s

BCEN and the National Flight Nurses Association (NFNA, the precursor to today’s Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association, or ASTNA) collaborate on the initial development of new credential and national certification exam for flight nurses.

“This is a unique collaboration that demonstrates a visionary commitment to enhancing patient care.”

 – BCEN President Catherine T. Kelly, RN, MSN, CEN, CCRN

Special thanks to the Journal of Emergency Nursing for permission to feature this photograph as BCEN commemorates the 30th anniversary of the CFRN.


Thank you for joining us on this Walk Through 30 Years of CFRN History. We salute the dedication, compassion, courage and commitment to excellence of every CFRN past, present and future.

For more on the history of flight nursing and the CFRN, read Excellence in the Air: The CFRN. To see what transport nursing pioneers and industry leaders had to say about the CFRNs 30th anniversary, read our CFRN Tribute.

View more photos and comments from the CFRN community in our 30th Anniversary CFRN gallery.

The Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN®) is a registered trademark of the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN).