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The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing  (BCEN), the benchmark for board certification across the emergency nursing spectrum, today recognized an outstanding board-certified emergency nurse for their excellence and advocacy with its 2021 Distinguished CEN Award. The annual national award recognizes one top Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) from among the nearly 42,000 CENs practicing across the U.S. and around the world.

  • The BCEN 2021 Distinguished CEN Award winner is Heidi Cote, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, Clinical Nurse III and Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine. Cote was in the spotlight, along with all of BCEN’s 2021 nurse and organizational award winners, during BCEN’s virtual Certibration event on Thursday, July 22.

“Heidi Cote represents the best of certified emergency nursing practice. Every shift and every day, she raises the standard of care through her own bedside practice, her role as a nurse educator, and her commitment to helping her colleagues achieve the highest levels of clinical and professional excellence through CEN certification,” said BCEN CEO Janie Schumaker, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, CENP, CPHQ, FABC.

The CEN is one of the oldest and most widely held nursing specialty certifications. Nurses who earn the CEN designation have demonstrated advanced knowledge, expertise and clinical judgment across the entire body of emergency nursing knowledge for patients of all ages.

BCEN 2021 Distinguished CEN Award winner is Heidi Cote, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN.

Heidi Cote on EMS and ED Nurses:
“EMS and ED nurses can work together to really understand the patient and where they are coming from. Sometimes when patients come in, the nursing staff does not always understand — and certainly cannot see — the environment that the patients come from.

So, at the handoff, I make sure to ask about the living situation and the environment the patient came from. Knowing that kind of information helps me as a nurse to make sure my patients get the additional resources they need…“

“Heidi represents emergency nursing to our public in such a positive light, and we couldn’t be more proud of her,” said Maine Medical Center Director of Emergency Services Faye Collins, DNP, RN, NEA-BC. “I can honestly say that in my 30 years of nursing, I have never had the privilege of knowing someone so uniquely appropriate and deserving of this award. Heidi is an amazing certified nurse, and a role model for all of us.”

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When asked what receiving the BCEN Distinguished CEN Award means to her, Cote said, “There is no other kind of nursing I would rather do, and I’m greatly honored to be selected given the many hard-working and deserving emergency nurses out there. I did not earn this on my own. I have several mentors and colleagues and my leadership who have helped me along the way and given me avenues to succeed.”

“Having my CEN makes a difference because it shows that I keep up with current, evidence-based practices in emergency nursing,” Cote added. “I firmly believe having this certification makes me a safer and more effective bedside nurse.”

Read about Cote’s journey from ED tech to award-winning board-certified emergency nurse in our “Meet the Winner” Q&A at

For more on the origin, history and impact of the CEN certification, read 40 Years of Excellence: The Certified Emergency Nurse from BCEN’s Commitment to Excellence series.

About BCEN’s National Nurse and Organizational Awards

Every year, BCEN seeks to recognize individual specialty certified emergency, trauma and transport nurses as well as healthcare organizations that demonstrate and advance certified nursing excellence and advocate for emergency nurse board certification. Learn more about BCEN’s Distinguished Awards and National Certification Champion Awards at

This year’s BCEN National Certification Champion honoree will be announced on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. BCEN’s 2021 Distinguished CFRN (flight) and Distinguished TCRN (trauma) recipients were announced earlier this year.

Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN)
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