CEN as a New Grad

  1. Hello,

    Let me begin by saying I realize everyone will say this is not advised, but is it POSSIBLE to get your CEN as a New Grad? According to the BCEN the only requirement is a valid license. I'm in California and having a wonderfully difficult time finding a job. I've only had my license a month, but I don't do well sitting idol. I'm use to studying as I've only been out of school 3 months. I'm wondering why not just go for it? It's on my bucket list anyway so why not just start studying and working toward my CEN?

    I'm looking for a few things from you all.

    1. Is it possible (not is is recommended) but is it possible?

    2. Do you think this will increase my chances of being hired or will my "New-gradness" still offset my having a CEN and keep me from being hired?

    3. For those who have their CEN, what kind of time do you think would be required (in general) to get your CEN? What Recommendations for a course of study would you have for someone with no experience?

    I'm sure I've got a few of you shaking your head at me, but I appreciate the advice as I kick around this idea!

  2. Visit mterrybsn profile page

    About mterrybsn

    Joined: Feb '14; Posts: 3
    from US


  3. by   CrunchRN
    It will not help your new grad status and difficulty caused by that and in general any specialty certification like this would be almost impossible to pass without any real world experience.

    That said, it couldn't hurt to study for it while you have time on your hands.
  4. by   zmansc
    New grad is new grad is new grad. I'm sorry to say it, because it seems to be a big surprise to many in this profession, but the more education the profession requires the more difficult it is to find that first job. Why? Well, because you have to be able to perform at a very high level and fairly autonomously. Who, without experience can be expected to do so?

    Of course, that brings up the old catch 22, how do I get experience without getting the first job? Fortunately, nursing does seem to have some entry level positions, there are many professions, where it is much worse than nursing on getting a first job. Not that that helps you much.

    I would suggest against sitting for the CEN, and suggest you look into volunteer work you can do, networking opportunities you can do, things like that. The more involved you can be with the organizations that might hire you, the more you can mingle with others who are in your profession, the better off you will be. Did you graduate with a BSN, or an ADN? If you have an ADN, then I would also suggest, starting school towards your BSN. It will defer any loan payments and help you stand out.

    Another suggestion would be to widen your search area. Are you only looking in a certain geographical region (within x miles of your home) or for ER or certain types of jobs? You might have to settle for a med surg, or LTC or whatever job for your first experience and then migrate towards what you want. I have a co-worker who spent his first year at a LTC facility an hour from here, then got a part time job in our hospital, then got hired on full time, cross trained into the ER and is now finally coming to work in the ER full time. Not the fastest path, yes he has some classmates who got to the ER faster, but when all is said and done, he got where he wanted to get to. He also has a classmate that refused to take anything but the perfect job, she's still searching.....

    Sorry if this isn't the panacea you wanted to hear. Real life often isn't. Sometimes the most direct way to get from point A to point B isn't the straight line you think it is!
  5. by   mterrybsn

    That's what I expected to hear from everyone. I graduated with my BSN and have my PHN. I'm not opposed to med/surg for a while, although it's not my preferred route. I too have a friend who went from tele to ER. It's not to say that it won't happen that way for me, its just difficult to find those jobs as well. Seems to be an absolute drought on New Grad positions, at this moment. My search area is huge by most state standards. I've got dozens of hospitals I'm applying to, trouble is they all have a big sign on them that say "No New Grads". I get that without experience I can't be expected to preform, but like you said it's a catch 22.

    I guess my answer for myself after spending the morning contemplating this is, if I want it, I might as well start studying for it while I keep looking. It's a good way to start thinking ahead anyway. I honestly didn't expect this post to garner much support but I've seen that people a with a year experience have passed and to me a year is not that much time. If the job market was different I wouldn't even be considering this, but idle time is idle time and I would rather fill it with something useful.

    I appreciate the response and suggestions.

  6. by   emtb2rn
    zmansc said it very well. Plus, having your CEN indicates that you're an expert in the field and as a new grad, is that really the case?

    When I took the test, I read most of the questions and thought, "yeah, I've seen/done that". Experience does count.
  7. by   CrunchRN
    Studying for it can't hurt anything and I am sure you will learn plenty. Good plan. Just do not take the actual test until you have that real world experience under your belt.
  8. by   c.kelly20
    I graduated in June 2013 and spent 6 months on medsurg. It sucked, but it at least gave me a little bit of experience and I just started a new job in the ER. I also looked into getting certs to help myself and to make myself more knowledgeable, but after seeing the amount of information I have to know just after orientation, I'm intimidated and planning to wait a few months. The ED setting is completely different than that of a normal floor, and the learning curve when you are a brand new nurse is rather steep. I'd attempt to get some experience first (anywhere) before attempting to get certified. Just my opinion though :-) Good luck!
  9. by   RNCEN
    I took it as a new grad, and with only 7 (4 on orientation) months experience as an ER nurse. I was an ER tech for 2 years while in school...so I did have a little more experience. It's just a test, it doesn't make you an expert, although it would seem that is the intention of the BCEN. So, yes, it's possible. Does it REALLY mean anything...probably not.
  10. by   thelema13
    Employers look for experience more than certifications, and you definitely need some good​ experience before taking CEN.
  11. by   RNCEN
    Forgot to mention, I passed easily. Many of my experienced (many years) coworkers did not pass, for what it's worth. They are very good nurses.
  12. by   Pixie.RN
    The CEN is a validation of the work ED nurses do every shift. In my opinion, board certification in a specialty without experience doesn't mean much, except that you know how to study/pass a test.

    I passed my CEN with slightly less than 10 months of RN experience, but I was an ED tech for 3.5 years and had been a paramedic for 6 years by that point (there is some knowledge overlap).

    Good luck in your endeavors!
  13. by   BrooklynRN11201
    I'll echo what everyone else said - I am technically a new grad (June 2013) and the only reason I got a job in my ED is because I externed here over the summer and made some nice connections. I realize I am very very VERY lucky. That said, the types of certifications that will likely help you are ACLS and PALS if you haven't gotten it already, and you can also get certified in trauma, IV therapy, wound care etc. etc. - check to see what's available to you in your area. All that stuff looks good on a resume, but I don't think, even if you passed the CEN (and everyone I've spoken to say it's impossible to pass with less than a year experience), that it will look good on your resume without the experience to match it. The only way to beef up your resume is to add relevant certifications and get SOME sort of real world clinical experience, even if it's volunteering or working as a visiting nurse for now.
  14. by   pro-student
    I'm going to buck the trend and say if emergency nursing is what you want to do then go for it. There is no conceivable way CEN is going to hurt you as an applicant and it will at least give you an edge on other new grads. I doubt it will compensate for lack of clinical experience but shy of getting a job, nothing will. I took and passed the CEN after having only interned in an ER as a student. I would say to prioritize ACLS, PALS, TNCC, and ENPC first. Material from these will show up on the exam and they are often required for new hires within a certain period. Taking the initiative in getting these on your own will show you're committed to emergency nursing.

    I totally disagree with the idea that CEN or specialty certs are based on experience or clinical skills. If they were, don't you think there would be some, ah, skills performed for the certification. They're validation of knowledge and application to scenarios but in the end you're certified by answering questions on a computer not patient care. Being certified will show you know enough to be an strong emergency nurse but not necessarily that you have the clinical skills. But an employer is more likely to hire a new grad who demonstrates the knowledge and needs an opportunity to hone skills than one who has demonstrated neither knowledge nor skills in emergency nursing.

    If you decide to go for it, I'd highly recommend the CEN review course from MedEd (there used to be a guarantee that you'd pass or they'd refund your fee, idk if that's still around). Also, I liked Pass CEN by Dennison, Johnson, and Blair. It covers more content than necessary but I love the outline format. For practice questions, I'd recommend Lippincott's Q & A Certification Review, the questions and rationales are pretty good but I'm not a huge fan of the page layout (question and answer on the same page in two columns). It also includes two full practice exams in addition to specific topical sections.

    Best of luck! Don't give up.