the country in chaos during the spread of the coronavirus, we’ve published many
stories on how to deal with it in various ways. But in addition to dealing with
it now, this experience may have gotten you thinking about your career in the
future—especially with emergency services.
While the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) will celebrate its 40th anniversary this coming June, we interviewed its leader now to give you information that you may want if you’re contemplating moving into this kind of work and want to know about the Board Certifications available and how to get them.
Janie Schumaker, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, CENP, CPHQ, FABC, is the Executive Director of the BCEN, which is based in Oak Brook, Illinois. She answered our questions about what board certification for emergency nursing means and how to go about it.
is the importance of being board certified as opposed to simply earning another
kind of certification?
Holding a board certification vs. earning a
certificate are often confused and misunderstood.
A board certification, like for example BCEN’s Certified
Emergency Nurse (CEN ®) or Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN®)
designation, is an earned credential that demonstrates the individual’s
specialized knowledge and skills across an entire specialty body of knowledge. Certification
is awarded by a third-party organization, like the Board of Certification for
Emergency Nursing, and high-quality programs are accredited by an organization
such as the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nurse Certification (ABSNC).
Individuals receive their certification after meeting
strict eligibility requirements and successfully completing a rigorous national
certification examination. In addition, board certifications have ongoing
requirements that must be met to maintain the credential, ensuring the holder is
sustaining their level of expertise. Certifications are nationally recognized
and are appropriately included with the earner’s signature along with their
Where board certification is about validating mastery
across a specialty, a certificate and other instruction-based certifications importantly
help nurses acquire focused knowledge and skills. Examples of certificates are
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) or Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC™).
Board certification is the highest professional
credential a nurse can earn, and being board certified demonstrates a commitment
to one’s career, patients, and organization.
do nurses earn this?
Earning a board certification from BCEN requires an
unrestricted U.S. RN license or equivalent. Just recently, we announced a new
international candidate process that for nurses educated and/or practicing outside
the U.S. We recommend that a nurse has two years of practice in the specialty area
before sitting for that exam. When ready, nurses complete an application to sit
for the exam, chose a testing time and site that works for them, and then take
the test on the specified day. Of course, there is much preparation that is
necessary prior to the exam.
nurses think they might be interested in becoming board certified, what do they
need to do?
Nurses who are interested in becoming board certified
should incorporate preparation into their career plans early. Often it is
required or recommended nurses have a certain amount of time working in their
specialty area—for example, 2 years.
Start by researching the nursing specialty
certification board that provides the credential in your specialty area. Take a
look at their website. They will have a candidate handbook that explains
eligibility and testing. Each certification exam has a test blueprint or
content outline. This is very helpful in determining what to expect on the exam
and what to study.
Many certification boards also provide a list of
reference books used to create their exams. These can be very helpful to know
what resources to use to study. Another thing that is highly effective is for
nurses interested in certification to form a study group and prepare for the
Nurses interested in certification should also ask their employers about the support and resources they offer. Many employers value the impact certified nurses make in the workplace and offer support in various forms. Membership in a professional association can mean you qualify for a discount on certification and recertification fees.
[BCEN’s resource page, which includes everything from
content outlines to test anxiety resources is here. Their resource page for students
Counties across Oregon are suffering from a shortage of primary care Nurse Practitioners (PCNPs), according to a 2019 survey. A recent study from the Oregon Center for Nursing found that despite the promising national statistics reported by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), which estimates that over 75% of NPs are practicing in primary care settings, the distribution of these NPs is severely lacking in Oregon.
As PCNPs are vitally needed to compensate for the shortage of physicians, their unavailability is severely felt in parts of Oregon, which is one of the 22 “full practice” states in the US. In contrast to the AANP’s national figures, a state-specific study of Oregon indicates that only one third of practicing NPs (35%) are working in primary care, with another 22% focusing on a combination of specialty and primary care. Of the 22% with combined practices, 62% spend less than half their time on primary care.
Surprisingly, the shortage of primary care NPs tends to be more evident in urban counties, whereas rural counties appear to be better served. Although there are fewer PCNPs by number in rural counties, the proportion of PCNPs is actually higher in rural areas when measured against per capita population figures.
The Oregon Center for Nursing makes three recommendations:
- Communities should promote incentives such as student loan repayment programs and grants to attract PCNPs to practice in their areas. In addition, incentives could be devised to encourage primary care physician groups to hire NPs and include them in their existing practices.
- The education system in Oregon should examine ways to increase the number of PCNP graduates. Currently, some 70% of the PCNPs practicing in Oregon received their degrees in out-of-state schools. This indicates that the facilities within Oregon are not able to meet present needs for the education of PCNPs, and until the state expands educational opportunities for PCNPs, it will be necessary to fill the gap with graduates from other states.
- Community leaders and health officials should explore the reasons that affect NP decisions to focus on primary care. In addition to considering the question of why PCNPs are being drawn more to rural areas in Oregon than urban counties, these officials should ask “Why do NPs choose to work in non-primary care roles? What incentives might change their minds? Once these underlying reasons are understood, communities can use this knowledge to attract NPs to provide primary care in their communities.”
For more details, visit here,
or click the following link to see the full
report (PDF file).
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is
directly contacting retired VA and Federal clinicians to join them in
the ongoing effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
needs experienced patient-care providers during the crisis
to help those already providing the best care to our Veterans at
VA medical centers, outpatient clinics and community living
department is reaching out to retired VA and Federal health care
providers through social media, massive postcard mailings, email and
word of mouth. VA staff are currently working the phones to ask if
former colleagues are interested in coming back for a 120-day
assignment, renewable up to one year.
“The nation’s health care system is dealing with an unprecedented crisis,” said Dr. Richard Stone, Executive In Charge, Veterans Health Administration. “Beyond VHA’s primary mission of providing care for our Veterans, we have a fourth mission, which is to be the safety net for our Nation’s health care system. We need everyone to join us in this fight, and recently retired health care professionals can come in and make an immediate impact.”
After retiring in 2014, former VHA Chief
Nursing Officer and Senior Nurse Executive Catherine Rick has
answered the call and is awaiting her assignment from VA. “I could
work virtually from home or I could travel. I’m healthy and I’m
tech-savvy,” said Rick, who lives in the Phoenix area.
Rick said her high regard for VA staff and her
experience in hurricane emergency response made her want to step up
during the current health crisis. “In my 22 years of experience
with VA, I can say I have the highest regard for everything VA does —
and can do. There is an extremely talented staff across the VA
system, and the work the emergency relief staff does made me think
about what they’re going through. I knew their wheels must be
spinning in overtime.”
VA is especially looking for nurses and
other health care providers, including physicians, pharmacists,
laboratory technicians and respiratory therapists, with interest
and expertise in:
Direct patient care/support (at a
VA medical center and/or outpatient clinic)
Travel Nurse Corps
On March 19, 2020. the U.S. Office of Personnel
Management (OPM), approved a VA
request to waive a section of Federal
law to make it easier for the department to rehire retired VA health
care providers. As re-employed
annuitants, employees will receive their
Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or Federal Employee Retirement
System (FERS) annuities, as well as a paycheck as a Federal employee,
without any offset to their retirement income. OPM instituted the
waiver through March 31, 2021.
Expanding VA’s workforce helps the department better fulfill its mission of caring for our Nation’s heroes and supporting the Federal government in our public health mission during a pandemic.
Call to Action
needs you! If you would like to join your fellow health care
providers in caring for our Veterans and support the national effort
to combat the coronavirus, please do the following:
if you are a retired nurse or health care provider interested in
joining VA as a re-employed annuitant. Or
email your availability and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
you are a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, physician’s
assistant or certified registered nurse anesthetist interested in
joining the Travel Nurse Corps, providing telehealth, or being
assigned to a VA Medical Center.
retired nurses and other health care providers and share information
about VA’s recruitment needs and efforts, including the:
can also learn more about VA’s
the coronavirus by visiting VA’s
public health site.
Learn recruitment strategies that tie in with National Nurses Week and how they can be a helpful tool in gaining quality nursing staff that you are more likely to retain. With the national nursing shortage still an issue today, recruiting new nurses for your clinical positions as well as enticing new student nurses is a top priority. How you go about recruitment can make a difference in whether potential hires choose your hospital as their place of employment.
The Importance of a Recruitment Strategy
The nursing shortage doesn’t necessarily affect your ability to
find new hires. Because many hospitals have difficulty with
retention, nurses are often looking for new jobs. There are also
still plenty of nursing students entering the profession. The real
issue is how to attract them. This is where your recruitment strategy
becomes invaluable. It’s also vital to keep in mind that your
retention strategy starts with your recruitment efforts. The steps
you take to recruit new nurses to your program is also what will make
them want to stay if you handle it properly.
According to the American
Organization of Nurse Executives, a conservative
estimate of the money a hospital spends indirect
recruitment costs related to a turn-over is $10,000. Building a
robust recruitment strategy that is backed by the same fervor of
retention efforts can help eliminate the need for this expenditure.
Why National Nurses Week is the Perfect Opportunity to Utilize Your Strategy
During National Nurses Week, employers take the time to celebrate
their nursing staff and recognize the hard job they have. Many times,
the best recruitments strategies come down to which hospital showed
they were the most invested in their employees. That’s why
utilizing National Nurses Week in your recruitment strategy can be so
helpful – your current employees have a lot to say in the matter.
of nurses surveyed in Nurse.com’s salary survey
said that salary was of utmost importance for job satisfaction, money
wasn’t everything. And salary didn’t just mean the
dollars they took home. A high salary may look enticing, but
cost-of-living has to be factored in as well. Indeed.com
surveyed nurses as well, according
to their data, scheduling flexibility and work-life
balance often took priority over salary. They also reported that 26%
of nurses with existing jobs say they’re contacted weekly by
recruiters. Standing out from the competition is a must.
With the market as competitive as it is, healthcare organizations need to find new and unique ways to recruit potential hires. National Nurses Week allows you to highlight what makes working for your facility so outstanding. Below are some options for using this week of recognition to help recruit new talent.
When you begin highlighting your open positions via job boards, mass emails, and other techniques, consider the impersonal nature of such strategies. Rather than sending the same form email to all 50 candidates, personalize each with a message related to National Nurses Week. Contact them to show appreciation, maybe including a discount, freebie, or invite to an event you’re holding. You may also want to point out why they’d be a good fit, using specific reasons that stood out to you during the interview process. Tout their potential and offerings, not yours, during this exchange, and you’ll show them that you’re already a step ahead of the competition.
Show, Don’t Just Tell
Part of the promise is what comes of it. Make sure that you are following up on your promises that you make to your potential hires. Give them proof that you’ve been faithful to your word. Perhaps having special nurse week marketing materials that showcase happy employees talking about what is best about your hospital or having a coffee hour each day where a satisfied family comes in and tells about a nurse at your facility that stood out. The more good publicity you can get from happy patients and current staff, the better it looks. Of course, please don’t force it or coerce it in any way, because doing so will come out and backfire.
Let the Data Drive You
One of the smartest things you can do when it comes to hiring is to
defer to the data. Not only by doing your research on how things
historically go, but by collecting some data of your own. Asking your
potential hires questions regarding why they did or didn’t choose
your hospital, which recruitment strategy enticed them the most, and
even how they prefer to find a job can all be a great source of
information to help drive your recruitment strategies. Involving your
potential hires and current nurses can also lead to more trust, as it
creates a feeling of being heard and valued, which is a trait that
many employees look for in a job.
National Nurses Week is an excellent time to implement this. Along with a note of appreciation to each nurse, include a survey with some of these questions and then a section asking how you can make their job better as well as how you can continue to show your appreciation. Consider incentivizing the return of the survey by making it anonymous or adding a gift upon completion. You can even send these surveys along to student nursing programs, giving the students a personal one-on-one invite to tour your hospital or shadow a nurse for a day. Former nursing staff in good standing could also get a survey asking why they left and letting them know you appreciate them and are remembering them during this week.
Your Existing Nursing Staff Should Not Be Overlooked
Letting your nurses know they are appreciated should be a daily occurrence, but during National Nurses Week, it can be especially helpful. Your existing nursing staff is one of the best ways to find new nurses. If they are happy, they will be more likely to recommend an open position to a friend. This is even more true for traveling nurses who may encounter unhappy employees on their journeys. Be sure to treat them just like the long-term staff and find a way to recognize them as well. Consider treating your nurses to some bonus activities during the week, such as a free meal. If you decide to have events during the week, invite the nurses’ families. And remind them how to care for themselves to maintain a positive work-life balance.
Open Your Doors to New Hires
Having an event during National Nurses Week that is part job-fair and part celebration can go a long way with nursing students and potential hires. Give them an inside look into what working for your hospital would look like. Treat each person as if you are genuinely invested in their success by helping them take steps toward getting their first program acceptance or new job. Along with inviting them in for a tour, give them a chance to meet some of the staff they would be working with, including nurses, management, and doctors. Provide a photographer that can take free headshots for their portfolios. Don’t focus on pushing your recruitment strategy and instead let each person walk away with a booklet that covers the approach along with other relevant information about your hospital. If you impress them upfront, the brochure will be the icing on the cake.
Put Out a Press Release
National Nurses Week is the perfect time to announce something new your program is offering or doing. Recently, the news was released that the US Senate vowed to strengthen academic nursing. They were strategic in announcing it during National Nurses Week. Why? Because nurses are paying attention. It’s their week of recognition, and more news comes across their desk that they might want to pay attention to between those discounts and freebie offers that also inevitably come.
Take a Page from the Book of Success
Ideas abound for how to make an impression on potential candidates. If you’re looking for fresh nursing talent and you’re willing to invest in them early, why not take a page out of Western Governors University’s book? To celebrate National Nurses Week in 2016, they awarded scholarships to nurses across the nation. Your program could offer this to student nurses as well as tenured nurses looking to advance in their careers by going back to school.
A Call to Action: Begin Today
Increasing your chances of attracting top nursing talent takes a
focus on your potential hire’s best interests. What do they want?
Professional development, flexibility, work-life balance, unique
perks, fair pair, tuition assistance, and other such incentives go a
long way. Taking a personalized approach and showing how much your
facility values its nursing staff will attract more potential hires
than you expect. It’s easy enough to implement that you can begin
right now. The key is to make sure you continue appreciating your
nurses every day of the year, as well. For more information on
supporting your staff, nurses, or other departments, see
library of published resources that are designed for
those in the healthcare field.
Nursing students, nursing schools, school nurses grounded after school closures, and retired nurses are all joining the fight against the rising pandemic.
Here are just a few
examples to be found across the United States:
Belhaven’s School of Nursing are performing community outreach and
educating the public on how to protect themselves and others from the
virus. Students are teaching infection-control techniques, discussed
sanitation practices with the college’s operations team, and have
posted instructions in campus dorms on maintaining safe hygiene.
Senior Rebecca Rylander tells Jackson’s WJTV,
“There is a desperate need for healthcare workers amidst this
pandemic, and I want to help fill that need.”
Long Island, New
At nursing and
medical programs in Long Island, students barred from immediate
contact with patients are playing an active role behind the scenes
and on the front lines. While medical students at the Renaissance
School of Medicine in Stonybrook are conducting online research and
serving patients via telehealth sessions, the Barbara H. Hagan School
of Nursing and Health Sciences tells Newsday
that they have “alumni, graduate students and faculty working in
emergency rooms and testing sites, and undergraduates are working or
volunteering as nursing assistants.”
School nurses have
volunteered at Darien High School’s COVID-19 testing station. Lisa
Grant, a school district nurse at Hindley School, said “We had been
asking our director what we can do to help so when Darien signed up
for a site, we volunteered.” Yvonne Dempsey, of Ox Ridge School was
also ready to help out. Dempsey told the Darien
Times, “As nurses, we put ourselves out there any way we can. I
figured that’s something I can do in my free time with the schools
closed.” She adds, “Testing is the key — testing and isolation
as much as possible is the only way to stop the spread.”
Massachusetts, Caldwell, New Jersey, and elsewhere
In response to calls
from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing faculty
at colleges, universities, and community colleges are rushing to
donate supplies of everything from masks to isolation gowns, to hand
sanitizer. “This is a time when we all need to come together as a
community and work cooperatively to fight this pandemic for the
health and safety of everyone,” MassBay Community College President
David Podell told the Framingham
Source. Jennifer Rhodes, DNP, a faculty member at Caldwell
University’s School of Nursing and Public Health, remarked,
“As a former emergency room nurse, I cannot imagine what they are
experiencing on the front lines right now.”
Retired nurses are
also answering individual states’ call for help. Nebraska
TV spoke to 61-year-old Mary Steiner, a former emergency response
nurse, has volunteered for the Central Nebraska Reserve Core. As she
waits to put to use her training in natural disaster and emergency
preparedness, Mary remarks, “If it’s something that becomes as
serious as what’s going on in New York City right now… They’re
wanting all hands on deck and so regardless of what my workplace
setting has been in the past I know they’re going to be able to use
While you’re confined to working or studying full-time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to take measures to maintain your health and well-being. Here are five tips from Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, co-editor of Evidence-Based Leadership, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Nursing and Healthcare, to help you stay well in this era of isolation and social distancing:
1 – Guard your sleep by keeping a regular schedule
Set a regular schedule for getting up and going to sleep. It’s ideal to continue to get up and go to bed at the same time as you would if you were still going in to the office. Also keep in mind that stress takes a toll on your body; you may need more sleep than usual, and that’s okay.
2 – Eat Healthy
You now have more access to your food supply than you would in your office, so be conscious about how and what you are eating. Remember the 80/20 rule – 80% healthy foods and 20% “want” foods. It can be easy to fall into the pattern of grabbing a little food every time you are in the kitchen, but those little nibbles can pile on a lot of extra calories. Instead, set yourself regular snack times and have a healthy snack, such as piece of fruit, a lowfat yogurt or a cup of popcorn. Drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day, as even slight dehydration can make you feel tired.
3 – Beware of the Chair!
It’s important not to sit for long periods of time as it is not only good for your heart health, but it drains your energy. Try getting up and moving around once an hour to sustain your energy throughout the day. Put on some music and dance for 10 minutes, lift weights or household objects, walk up and down the stairs or take a quick wellness walk outside. If you’re home with your children, ask them to join you. You can construct a standing desk at home by piling up books or putting your laptop on a low stool on top of a table.
4 – Shed Stress Regularly
Instead of waiting until work time is over, try to release stress regularly throughout the day so that it doesn’t build up and wear you out. Try a five-minute meditation, take five slow deep breaths at regular intervals throughout the day or write in a journal about what is on your mind. Start each day by counting a few people or things you are grateful for and read five minutes in a positive thinking book. This “me” time will help you be more present for others. If you are stressed or anxious to the point that it is starting to interfere with your functioning, reach out to your healthcare provider or employee assistance program.
5 – Monitor your social wellness
isolated? Miss talking to people? Pick up the phone and call a
coworker instead of sending an email. Have a virtual lunch with a
friend. Don’t wait until feelings of loneliness become
overwhelming—try to get a little “social time” by video
conference or phone every day after work so that you can keep your
Finally, remain vigilant in working to help prevent the spread of infection. Follow CDC guidelines for washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, maintain physical distance from others and do your part to keep the coronavirus from spreading.