Geri Nigro sat for the very first CEN exam in 1980 and later was asked to sit on a panel to review exam questions, which we now call our Exam Construction Review Committee. 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. Geri says, and most nurses can agree, “Emergency nursing is always changing — you have to stay on top of it to be successful.”
After 49 years as a nurse and 40 years a Certified Emergency Nurse, she still learns something new in the ED every day. Around 1980, when the first CEN exam was about to take place, Geri took the initiative to obtain her specialty certification. She was one of the youngest nurses in her program and having a CEN put her on another level compared to the other nurses she was working with. As a nurse who never completed a BSN, certification validated her in her profession and showcased her specialty body of knowledge without a bachelor’s degree. At the time of her hiring, she was encouraged to be an agent of change. And, her CEN certification provided her the opportunity to be just that.
“There is a vast array of knowledge required to be an emergency nurse … you have to be confident that you know what you are doing,” said Geri. She believes that maintaining her CEN after so many years of nursing allows her to be savvy on changes in the profession and confident in her decision-making skills.
Those outside of the ED may not realize how incredibly dynamic and specialized nursing really is. “It is an exciting profession with many challenges,” said Geri. “It is a wonderful thing to get to light up the people around you, whether they are colleagues or patients, and to be able to teach and learn every day.”
She advises new nurses not to get discouraged. It’s easy to be overwhelmed at the start of your career. When you’re fresh out of nursing school and feel like you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, hang in there. She recommends certification as soon as you are ready to test as it is important for you and your future in nursing.