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Become a Certified Emergency Nurse with a BSN

Emergency nursing is an intense and challenging specialty because of the fast pace and critical nature of the patients' conditions. Nurses who are passionate about emergency care can become a certified emergency nurse (CEN), which will open the door to new career opportunities. One great way to start the journey is to earn a BSN through an RN to BSN program.

What Is a CEN?

A certified emergency nurse (CEN) provides urgent care to patients suffering from traumatic injuries or illnesses.

What Are the Duties of a CEN?

CENs immediately respond to incoming patients by triaging them based on the severity of their conditions. Then they work to stabilize patients, diagnose the medical condition or degree of injury, and decide on a course of action for treatment. The basic tasks performed by CENs are:

  • Administering medications
  • Blood transfusions
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Checking vitals
  • Collecting patient information
  • Fluid resuscitation
  • Wound care

Where Do CENs Work?

CENs work in busy and sometimes chaotic environments. You will find CENs in a variety of healthcare settings and organizations such as:

  • Correctional facilities
  • Hospital emergency departments
  • Government agencies
  • Military
  • Sports arenas
  • Urgent care centers

How Can You Become a CEN?

To become a CEN, you must complete either an ADN or a BSN program. After graduating, you need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to obtain your RN license. The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing recommends, but does not require, two years of experience in a specialty area to be able to sit for the CEN certification exam.

The Austin Peay State University (APSU) online RN to BSN program gives nurses a convenient and affordable option for earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

What Do You Need to Do for Certification?

After gaining the required experience, RNs can apply for and take the CEN exam, which is offered by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). The exam score is based on how many questions you answer correctly. The test has 175 items with 150 scored and 25 unscored. Here are the steps that lead to earning the CEN credential:

  • Set up a profile on the BCEN website and fill out application.
  • Submit application and get approved to sit for the exam.
  • Select a test site through BCEN's test delivery provider Pearson VUE.
  • Schedule your exam appointment within a 90-day testing window.
  • Study for the exam with a BCEN practice test.
  • Arrive at the testing site with your appointment confirmation and two forms of identification.
  • Complete site registration and orientation about the computerized testing.
  • Have your photo taken for use on the score report that the test administrator will give you at the end of the exam.
  • Take the exam — you will have three hours.
  • Receive your score report to find out if you passed or failed.

While an ADN meets the educational requirement for employment as an emergency nurse, a BSN builds on that preparation to better prepare nurses for making split-second decisions, determining solutions for difficult cases and providing safe care — all of which are crucial for patients with life-threatening conditions.

Learn more about Austin Peay State University's online RN to BSN program.


Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (CEN)

National Minority AIDS Education & Training Center: Certified Emergency Nurse Certification

Johnson & Johnson: Emergency Nurse Emergency Room Nurse

Nursing Explorer: Emergency Room Nurse

Chron: Emergency Room Nurse Degree Programs

Nurse Journal: Top 9 Advantages of a BSN Degree

NCBI: Baccalaureate Education in Nursing and Patient Outcomes

NCBI: Educational Levels of Hospital Nurses and Surgical Patient Mortality

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice

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