Written by: Casey Green, BSN, RN, CCRN-CMC, CTRN, CFRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN, NRP
When I finished nursing school, I knew I wanted to work as a critical care nurse. I wanted the rush, the adrenaline-high. I wanted to be the chaos queen, a trauma llama, all of it. My first job as a nurse in 2016 was on a Medsurg Observation unit. I quickly volunteered to float to the ICU and ED to take care of the border patients. That was my ticket in.
Soon after, I cross-trained for both ED and ICU. In 2019 I started thinking about board certification. At this point, I worked as an ER, ICU, and Critical Care Ground Transport nurse. I felt comfortable and confident in my nursing practice, so I started looking for ways to challenge the knowledge I gained from the floor.
I knew nurses who were certified, and, to me, their certifications meant a lot. It recognized the work they put in to become experts in their specialty and signified a commitment to the specialty they worked in. They make their unit stronger by sharing knowledge and encouraging others to seek certification.
Unfortunately, my nurse manager at the time did not have faith in my ability to pass certification exams for the CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse), CEN (Certified Emergency Nurse), and TCRN (Trauma Certified Registered Nurse). She rejected all of the applications I put in to attend the hospital-paid exam reviews. My nurse manager also heard that I was pursuing CRNA school in the future. She felt persuaded to tell me, “I don’t think you are well-rounded enough to be competitive. You have to be the best, and you are average”.
Her words were devastating and disappointing. The doubt she cast over my abilities, coupled with COVID hitting and a bad ankle injury at work made me question my worth as a nurse and the standards I set for myself. I started to hate going to work and the profession. “Why give so much to a profession that gives me so little” became my mindset.
How did I break the cycle? Oddly enough, having surgery. Being told I may or may not be able to work as a nurse after surgery propelled me back toward the profession I loved.
At one appointment, I ran into a patient I cared for in the ED. She told me how much I meant to her, and how without me her outcome may have been much different. Her words energized me. It showed me that I matter to patients. I’m more than my manager’s comments.
During my time working light duty and after surgery, I made certification my goal once I could walk on two feet again. This time, I wanted certification for myself, but I also wanted to expand my knowledge for my patients.
MY PURSUIT OF CERTIFICATION
I started studying for certification exams, and in February of 2021, I obtained my CCRN as my first certification. Then in April of 2021, I went on to obtain 4 more certifications (CTRN: Certified Transport RN, CFRN: Certified Flight RN, TCRN, and CEN). I continued my certification pursuit with CPEN (Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse) in August of 2021. Then Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC) subspecialty in December 2021.
In August of 2021 I became the 85th nurse ever to obtain all 5 certifications from the BCEN (Board of Certification in Emergency Nursing). Which is still crazy!
The interesting thing about certification is that I want to add to my knowledge each day and continue learning. It’s almost addicting. I want to pass on my knowledge to nursing students and coworkers. I urge every nurse I know to be certified in their specialty. We need to celebrate certified nurses and encourage nurses to stay in the profession. I am humbled to be a voice for nursing and to encourage others to pursue education and excellence in nursing. Certification gave me so much more than letters behind my name; it reignited my passion and purpose in nursing.
Edited by: Claire Lang, RN-BSN
6 thoughts on “Nursing Certification: How it Helped Me Stay in Nursing and Become an Alphabet Soup Queen”
Congratulations! This is amazing and as a person who failed the CEN by 1 flipping question! I am so proud of you for not giving up on yourself and hope you are doing well after surgery at this time! Thank you for sharing
You are amazing!!!!
It’s unfortunate that some employers aren’t supportive to nurses trying to seek certification and rewarding them after certification with recognition and pay raises.
Casey you are one of the BRIGHTEST nurses in the industry!!
Great insight ! You are a supportive & kind professor/mentor. We need more people like you. Congrats on all your accomplishments but moreover, thanks for inspiring passion, professionalism, & the pursuit of knowledge to all of us in the nursing profession !! 🙂
Congratulations for persevering and accomplishing your dreams! You are truly an inspiration…continue to pursue! Best wishes on your path to become a nurse anesthesiologist.
I had a similar experience in LPN school as well as my PNP program but I can now proudly call myself Dr. Moses even though they try to block that too! Congratulations and keep pushing!