What made you pursue certification?
My facility requires nurses to move up a clinical ladder in the ED. Once you get near the top you must attain a board certification to advance any further. I made the decision to make that career move. A few months before the deadline, I decided I was going to sit for the CEN® exam. It was the last piece I needed to submit my application.
What did your journey to certification look like?
It was definitely a journey. The first time I took the CEN I failed by less than 5 points. I waited the required 90-days to re-apply. The next time I took it I failed by 2 or 3 points. I felt so defeated. This was technically the 5th time I’d failed a BCEN® exam after failing the TCRN® and CPEN® previously as well, so I was in dire need of some assistance. And, I was running out of time to prepare for my clinical ladder application. I didn’t know what to do!
How did you finally succeed?
I’ve always believed “the answer is always no if you don’t ask.” So, I reached out to BCEN for support. I received encouragement, along with solid study tips I needed, to take the exam one more time before submitting my application at work. Guess what? I finally passed!
In hindsight, what were your downfalls?
I psyched myself out. I had a lot of pressure coming from all different directions. There was a time crunch to submit my application on time to my organization. Aside from that, certification was important to me. When you want something that badly, it’s easy to sabotage yourself. I also realized during this process that I’m just not a great test taker. I stress myself out and let the fear of failing get in the way of the knowledge I know I have.
Do you have any advice for other nurses who have been unsuccessful?
Just don’t give up. You have the knowledge to pass this exam! Push those boundaries to the side and trust yourself. Do your best to stay focused and positive. At the end of the day, your exam results don’t define you. You owe it to yourself to prove your expertise to yourself and improve your career so just keep going until you get it right!
How has your career changed since you finally achieved your goal of becoming certified?
I moved all the way up my organization’s clinical ladder! Better than that, I’ve become a mentor to other nurses trying to move up or struggling with a certification exam themselves. I know what it feels like to be ashamed of failing, but I also know that the journey doesn’t end there. Nurses in my organization are scared to talk about failing and I try to coach them through it and help them realize it’s okay to not get it the first time around.
Why do you advocate for board certification?
My hospital requires board certification to get any kind of raise or promotion. Aside from that, I really believe certification helps you improve both professionally and personally. It gives you a goal to strive for outside of your RN license, a prestigious status to achieve. Certification also makes you more confident in your patient care, which is invaluable in my field. Additionally, if you’re certified, you are more appealing to hiring managers. Whether you are applying to a brand new hospital or trying to move around within your organization, certification definitely sets you apart from other applicants.