Certified Emergency Nurse Exam Requirements

The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) is a national organization that offers the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential. By meeting eligibility requirements and passing the CEN exam, you can earn this voluntary certification. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Certified Emergency Nurse Exam Overview

The BCEN's Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential is approved by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification. This nationally recognized credential can be used throughout the U.S. Passing the certification exam and becoming certified in emergency nursing demonstrates your knowledge and skills to potential employers.

Important Facts About Emergency Nurses

Median Salary (2014) $66,640 (for registered nurses)
Key Skills Service orientation, social perceptiveness, coordination, speaking, and active listening
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% (for registered nurses)
Similar Occupations Critical/acute care nurses, respiratory therapists, and clinical nurse specialists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to take the CEN exam, you'll need a valid, unrestricted registered nursing license. It's recommended that you have at least two years of emergency care experience to prepare for the certification exam, but this isn't mandatory. Education requirements are only those mandated for licensure as a nurse by your state (www.bcencertifications.org).

Preparation

Some vocational colleges and universities offer preparatory courses and programs for the CEN exam. These are usually comprised of a couple of full days of lecture and training on emergency situations and medical issues typically encountered by emergency care nurses. Alternatively, you can find schools that offer certification preparation courses online that allow you to study at your own pace and receive guidance and support by qualified instructors. Prior to registering for the certification exam, BCEN offers 50-question and 150-question practice tests that you can take online.

Test Contents

The CEN exam contains 175 questions. Of those, 25 are pretest items that aren't counted toward your score. The exam primarily tests your critical thinking abilities and focuses on identification and correct practices for specific diseases and illnesses. It's designed to reflect what you'd typically experience on a regular basis working in emergency care. Exam topics cover emergencies in the following areas:

  • Gynecology and obstetrics
  • Orthopedics and various wounds
  • Communicable diseases
  • Shock
  • Oral and dental trauma
  • Professional practices
  • Respiratory infections
  • Toxic material exposure
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Psycho/social behaviors
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Neurological disorders

Taking the Test

You can register for the CEN exam online. You'll need to select a testing site and schedule your exam date. Bring your eligibility qualification to the testing site. You'll have three hours to complete the entire exam. Before you leave the testing center, you'll receive a report letting you know whether you passed or failed. If you didn't pass, you can retake the exam in three months.

The CEN credential is valid for four years. To maintain your certification, you'll either need to pass a renewal test or meet continuing education requirements. You can take the renewal test online or at a testing center.

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