Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing – Florida Atlantic University
When speaking with Janet Sopcheck, PhD, RN, CCRN, CEN, NE-BC, she seems to be the quintessential New Yorker: straight to the point and sharp as a tack. But, the most decisive statement she adamantly expresses is that she will never give up her Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN®) certification.
Her appetite for learning and passion for teaching substantiates her philosophy that being a nurse leader allows for everyone to work towards the common goal of better patient care, which is validated by her CEN certification.
Sopcheck earned her CEN credential in 1982, remarking that she feels it takes a certain type of person to achieve and maintain a certification.
“You really need to have the motivation and drive within yourself – to know that you can get the job done,” she said. The desire for continued growth is the main reason she will never allow her CEN credential to expire. “To maintain the level of excellence expected in this job, it is necessary to always keep learning and growing as a professional,” she said.
Going the extra mile is a habit Sopcheck developed early in her career, earning her BSN degree in 1975, followed by a Master of Science in Nursing degree at New York University in 1978. Her career eventually led her to Booth Memorial Hospital – now New York-Presbyterian/Queens – where she uncovered a passion for teaching. She worked in various staff and management positions, conducting review courses and sessions for nurses within the Emergency Department.
After relocating to Florida in 2001, she worked as a clinical specialist for eight years before officially transitioning to the educational realm as an instructor at Broward College and later Florida Atlantic University (FAU). At the same time, Sopcheck attended FAU as a student until she obtained her PhD in 2016.
Staying knowledgeable about the nursing profession and healthcare industry is important to Sopcheck, noting that throughout her career – even when working in a management role or working toward her PhD – she remains active in the hospital by working on a per diem basis.
Sopcheck believes continuing to work at the bed side and maintaining her CEN credential is important for another reason: to lead by example.
“It’s important for new and established nurses to learn from someone in the field and then to see the value of certification from someone who is actively maintaining theirs,” she said.
When speaking to her students about certification, Sopcheck is sure to talk about the potential outward benefits that can come from it, such as better job options or higher pay, but makes note of what she thinks is far more important.
“At the end of the day, you need to have the self-motivation to do something valuable [like achieve certification] for yourself. That attitude will help you to provide the highest quality of patient care.”