Graham Newton, BN, RN, CFRN, CTRN, EMT-P is one of our amazing volunteers. He resides in Alberta, Canada and travels to the US to sit on our CFRN/CTRN Exam Construction Review Committee. This committee is responsible for review, revision, and approval of items before they become part of the exam. We wanted to sit down with him to hear his perspective as a BCEN volunteer during National Volunteer Appreciation Week.
What is your favorite part of volunteering for BCEN?
For me, my favorite part is being able to network with other people, hear different ideas, and get a sense of what’s happening in other places. I think there’s a real potential to get stuck in this idea that you’re doing things a certain way for a certain reason – until you actually branch out and see other people that are doing things differently and realize that there are other ways to go about doing your work. So, I really enjoy being able to get together with other people, that are not only experts in their field, but leaders in the profession, as well. I guess parallel to that is also keeping myself abreast of relevant information by having to develop an exam that might not be seen for a couple of years. That means we have to be really sure that our information is top-notch and up to date. Keeping up with best practices and new information is a huge benefit I get from volunteering with BCEN.
How do you feel your work with BCEN impacts nursing as a whole?
It’s important to have a set standard that’s being showcased by passing the exam. It’s really impactful to be able to say, “I’m not only a flight nurse, I’m a certified flight nurse.” Anyone can potentially get on an airplane or a helicopter and say, “I’m a flight nurse.” But not every one of those people has necessarily put in the time, training, education, or had the experience to be able to prove their knowledge and achieve specialty certification. I think that’s one of the ways BCEN impacts the profession by setting a benchmark of expertise so that people have to prove their knowledge to be able to say, “I’m certified.”
It gives people something to strive for as well. For people that are interested in the profession or people that want to push forward their education, I think it’s pretty motivating to have a standard that others can look up to and can realize they should be certified, too. It gives people a tribe to belong to and a way to say, “not only do I want to do this job, but I want to be part of this elite niche that takes it one step further.”
If someone was interested in becoming a volunteer for BCEN, would you have any advice or words of wisdom for them?
I’d say go for it, for sure! If you’re interested in giving back to the profession and helping to direct the way that your specialty area in your profession is progressing, then it’s a great idea. You get to interact with a lot of intelligent people and meet some real leaders in the profession. Not only that, but you get to step your game up as well by joining that group and helping to set that trend, you’re ultimately accountable to others that are going to follow after you, and I think that bears a certain responsibility. It helps motivate you and push you to make sure you’re keeping current in your practice. It allows you to give back to something that you’re already invested in and something that you really value because it’s your career.
In regards to COVID-19, do you feel having certification has helped you in any way?
Yes, but probably not in the way you’d think. I don’t necessarily think there’s a higher intrinsic value of a nurse that has a certification over one who doesn’t right now. But what it gives you is a unique set of tools. The tools that were required to prepare you for certification can now be applied in other areas of your practice. For example, I mentioned keeping current on changing standards and being able to look at the most recent evidence as you are studying for the exam. Those same tools you need to, create the exam or study for the exam… those can now be applied to keeping up with the knowledge that’s coming out fast and furious for COVID-19. Being able to assimilate information coming out right now and decide what is important, what is not, what is convincing, and what needs a bit more data before it’s to be trusted. So, having a certification is valuable but not necessarily because of the particular specialty the certification it is. It’s more about the knowledge you needed to attain and maintain the certification and being able to now use those tools to look into the information that’s coming out about the pandemic.
Read more about volunteering for BCEN here!