When Louise Hummel changed positions in the hospital to become an Emergency Department nurse, she had no idea how her life would change.
At that time, board certification for nurses didn’t even exist. After a few years in the ED, she heard about the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN®) exam. She and a few friends immediately began studying to attain this new nursing credential. In the 1980s there were no review books from which to study. They took a review course sponsored by their ENA chapter but still were unsure what to expect from such an exam. Certification for nurses was extremely new and Louise was excited to sit for the first CEN exam.
Six weeks later, once she got her exam results, Louise returned to her hospital beaming with pride for having reached a major milestone. Out of the group of nurses that took the exam from her facility, only Louise and one other nurse passed. The emergency department physicians were also very proud of their staff’s accomplishments.
Attaining a CEN validated Louise’s specialty body of knowledge in emergency nursing. Before certification, nurses had no way to prove they really knew what they were doing and the value they brought to patient care.
“Typically, physicians were the ones expected to know things,” said Louise, “nurses just did what they were told.” With certification, the nurses could prove that they knew things, too. She gained respect from her peers, and trust from her patients.
Louise has since left the ED and now teaches full time in California. She has also maintained several positions within California’s State council and local ENA chapter. Though she is not actively practicing at the bedside anymore, she chooses to maintain her CEN certification as a sense of pride, ownership, and to demonstrate professionalism to her students. Louise says, “You don’t have to be at the bedside to maintain your credentials. I worked hard to earn my CEN and, as an educator, maintaining my CEN proves I still have the emergency nursing knowledge to pay it forward to the next generation.”