Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam is a standardized test conducted by Board of Certification for Emergency Nurses (BCEN) for credentialing of emergency care nursing specialty. BCEN is a certification body constituted by Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). CEN is one of the certification exams administered by BCEN.
The CEN is taken by the registered nurses, for credentialing of their skills and knowledge, pertaining to emergency care. The applicant must be holding a current and unrestricted nursing license. The experience of at least two years in critical care nursing is recommended, though, it is not a necessity. It is important to note that this examination is a certification exam, not a licensing examination. It is also not a requirement for working in acute care nursing specialty.
The test is breakdown into following sections- Cardiovascular emergencies (13%); Gastrointestinal emergencies (7%); Genitourinary, gynecology, and obstetrical emergencies (7%); Maxillofacial and ocular emergencies (6%); Neurological emergencies (10%); Orthopedic and wound emergencies (9%); Psycho/social emergencies (5%); Respiratory emergencies (12%); Environment and toxicology emergencies (7%); Shock (6%); Medical emergencies and communicable diseases (11%); and Professional issues (7%).
The content covered in these sections is as follow:
Cardiovascular emergencies: – Acute coronary syndrome, Cardiopulmonary arrest, Endocarditis, Aneurysm/dissection, Dysrhythmias, Hypertension, Heart failure, Pericardial tamponade, Pericarditis, Thromboembolic disease, Peripheral vascular disease and Trauma.
Gastrointestinal emergencies: – Acute abdomen, Cholecystisis, Bleeding, Cirrhosis, Diverticulitis, Esophageal varices, Esophagitis, Gastritis, Foreign bodies, Gastroenteritis, Hernia, Hepatitis, Intussusception, Inflammatory bowel disease, Pancreatitis, Obstructions, Trauma and Alcers.
Genitourinary: – Foreign bodies, Infection, Phimosis, Priapism, Testicular torsion, Renal calculi, Trauma, Urinary retention, Prostate conditions.
Gynecology: – Bartholin’s cyst, Foreign bodies, Bleeding/dysfunctional (vaginal), Infection (e.g., discharge, pelvic inflammatory disease, STDs), Hemorrhage, Trauma, Ovarian cyst, Sexual assault/battery.
Obstetrical: – Threatened/spontaneous abortion, Emergent delivery, Preterm labor, Ectopic pregnancy, Antepartum bleeding, Neonatal resuscitation, Preeclampsia, eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, Hyperemesis gravidarum, Trauma.
Maxillofacial: – Abscess (i.e., peritonsillar), Dental conditions, Epistaxis, Facial nerve disorders, Foreign body, Infection (e.g., Ludwig’s angina, otitis, sinusitis), Labyrinthitis, Meniere’s disease, Ruptured tympanic membrane, Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dislocation, Trauma.
Ocular: – Abrasion, Burns, Foreign body, Glaucoma, Infections (e.g., conjunctivitis, iritis), Retinal artery occlusion, Retinal detachment, Trauma (e.g., hyphema, laceration, globe rupture), Ulcerations/keratitis.
Neurological: – Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, Chronic neurological disorders (i.e., multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, etc), Guillain-Barré syndrome, Headache (i.e., including temporal arteritis, migraine), Increased intracranial pressure (ICP), Meningitis, Seizure disorders, Shunt dysfunctions, Spinal cord injuries, Stroke (e.g., ischemic or hemorrhagic), Transient ischemic attack (TIA), Trauma.
Orthopedic: – Amputation, Compartment syndrome, Contusions, Costochondritis, Foreign bodies, Fractures/dislocations, Inflammatory conditions, Joint effusion, Low back pain, Osteomyelitis, Other orthopedic trauma (e.g., Achilles tendon rupture, blast injuries), Strains/sprains.
Wound: – Abrasions, Avulsions, Foreign bodies, Infections, Lacerations, Missile injuries (e.g., guns, paint gun, nail gun), Pressure ulcers, Puncture wounds, Trauma (e.g., including degloving injuries).
Psycho/social: – Abuse and neglect, Anxiety/panic, Bereavement, Bipolar disorder, Depression, Eating disorders, Homicidal/violent, Psychosis
Situational Crisis (e.g., job loss, divorce, sudden unexpected infant death), Suicide.
Respiratory: – Aspiration, Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Infections, Inhalation injuries, Obstruction, Pleural effusion, Pneumothorax, Pulmonary edema, Noncardiac, Pulmonary embolus, Respiratory distress syndrome, Tension pneumothorax, Trauma.
Environment: – Burns, Envenomation emergencies (e.g., spiders, snakes, aquatic organisms), Food poisoning, Organophosphates and insecticides, Parasite and Fungal Infestations (e.g., giardia, ringworm, tineas, tape worms, pin worms, lice, maggots, scabies), Plants (e.g., contact dermatitis, ingestion), Radiation/hazardous material exposure, Submersion injury, Temperature-related emergencies (e.g., heat, cold, and systemic), Rabies.
Toxicology: – Acids and alkalis, Carbon monoxide, Drug interactions (including alternative therapies), Cyanide, Overdose and ingestion, Substance abuse.
Shock: – Cardiogenic, Distributive (e.g., anaphylactic, septic, neurogenic), Hypovolemic, Obstructive (e.g., pericardial tamponade, tension pneumothorax), Shock (not specific).
Medical Emergencies: – Allergic reactions, Blood dyscrasia, Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), Electrolyte/fluid imbalance, Endocrine conditions (Adrenal, Glucose related conditions, Thyroid), Fever, Hemophilia, Immunocompromise/oncological (e.g., HIV/AIDS), Renal failure, Sepsis, Sickle cell crisis.
Communicable Diseases: – C. Difficile, Childhood diseases (e.g., measles, mumps, pertussis, chicken pox, diptheria), Herpes zoster, Mononucleosis, Multi-drug resistant organisms (e.g., MRSA, VRE), Tuberculosis.
Professional issues-Nurse: – Critical Incident Stress Management, Ethical dilemmas, Evidence based practice, Lifelong learning, Research.
Professional issues-Patient: – Pain management, Discharge planning, End of life issues (Organ and tissue donation, Advance directive, Family presence, Withholding, withdrawing, and palliative care), Forensic evidence collection, Patient Safety, Transfer and Stabilization, Triage.
Professional Issues-system: – Delegation of tasks to assistive personnel, Disaster management (i.e., preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery), Federal regulations (e.g., HIPAA, EMTALA), Patient consent for treatment, Performance improvement, Risk management, Stabilization and transfer.
CEN consists of multiple choice questions. There are total 175 items, of which 150 are scored and 25 are not scored. The unscored questions are placed in the test to collect statistical data for future administration of the exam. The test can be taken either in computer based testing or paper and pencil format. The CEN is administered in a time period of 3 hours.
CEN exam score is proportional to the number of questions answered correctly. There is no negative marking in the test. As difficulty level of questions has been increased in the upgraded CEN exam (launched on 5 July 2011); passing score has been reduced to 70 percent. In computer based testing, Pass/Fail information is conveyed to the examinee immediately after test administration. The official scores are reported in 2 to 3 weeks from the exam date.
CEN exam is available in computer based as well as paper and pencil based format. It is administered commonly as computer based test; however, paper and pencil exams are also conducted throughout the year. It is conducted at Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) assessment centers. It is administered twice in a day, on Monday through Friday and Saturdays of 50 weeks in a year, between 9:00 AM to 01:30 PM.
The registration involves signing in or creating an account at the official site of BCEN (BCEN Credential Manager), completing an electronic application, doing online payment, receiving Eligibility E-mail, selecting a test site at www.goAMP.com, scheduling, and taking the test.
The CEN can be taken any number of times. The candidates require waiting for 90 days before each retest.
For ENA members, CEN fees structure is as follow: -
Initial certification- $220
Renewal by exam- $190
Renewal by IBT- $240
Renewal by CEs- $190
For non-members, CEN fees structure is as follow: -
Initial certification- $360
Renewal by exam- $320
Renewal by IBT- $370
Renewal by CEs- $320