June, 2011 Archive

June 15, 2011, 5:00 am

CEN – That’s Me!

Be careful what you wish for.

When I said I wished I could wear my nursing cap, this was not what I had in mind!

Behold the latest in Respiratory Isolation fashion – to be worn when your patient is undergoing an aerosolized treatment. First, you put on a cap to cover your hair. Then, you zip a disposable lining into the white hard hat. A motor blows cool filtered air in your face.

You can hear yourself breathe like Dave in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Nursing is not for the vain – you should have seen my hair when I took this contraption off. The N95 respirators take care of any make-up I might wear. So much for my cover model image : / Guess the folks at Glamour will have to wait.

Funny, I feel a strange connection to this fellow…..


Be sure to check out Dr. Val’s new radio show, Healthy Vision with Dr. Val Jones! It’s available on iTunes, and can also be heard on Better Health by clicking the widget to the far right on the sidebar. Listen in as she interviews experts on regular eye exams, contact lenses and UV protection for eyes (something I wasn’t aware of until recently!)


Well, I went and did it!

I took, and passed, the CEN exam!

Which is a little ironic, given how I was so sure that my career in emergency nursing was coming to a close last month.

And it might have, had “Thrive” Permanente seen any potential in an RN with 33 years of experience for their dermatology clinic.

(In addition, I was passed over for someone with, and I quote, “a higher level of experience” for their chronic disease clinic, too. Seriously. That nurse must have trained with Flo Nightingale, herself! Mind you, this was all via computer. No one ever talked to me. I’m starting to get a complex…)

And so I remain firmly ensconced in the ER milieu, surrounded by the infarcting, the exsanguinating, and the lacerated; the migraining, the febrile, and the vomiting; the sprained, the concussed and the drug seeking.

My people.


I’m proud of this CEN.

Didn’t change my work status. Didn’t change my paycheck.

But it does mean that I meet the core knowledge requirements for emergency nursing as established by the Emergency Nursing Association.

It feels good to have that verified.

I did get a new name tag with three new letters after my name.

I figure when the newness wears off, I’ll stop looking at it every ten minutes.

I did the same thing after my BSN.


I’d like to say I worked my butt off for the certification. And I did.

But I also walked my butt off for it, too!

The testing station was in San Francisco, about 1.5 miles from the BART station; I figured I would walk. Could have taken the MUNI, but the level of intimacy required due to the number of persons aboard was more than I was willing to share.

I started up Van Ness Avenue. Which is uphill. You don’t think it is, but it is. Trust me.

By the time I got to the location, I was sweating, out of breath and dying for water.

(Actually, I was dying for a margarita – I had passed two bars and a Chevy’s on the way…)

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When I sat down to take the test, I had zero anxiety. None. All that exercise must have cleared my head and left me with endorphins, because I hit the keyboard running and did 175 questions in a little over an hour (about 75 minutes).

Passed with a 90%. You find out immediately.


Decided on a Grande Caramel Frappucino with Extra Caramel and an Add-Shot from Starbucks on the way home instead of a margarita. Given that the temperature had dropped twenty degrees while I was taking the test I was sorry I had not gotten an extra-hot latte.

But San Francisco never looked as beautiful as it did on that walk back.

Guess I’ll be hanging out in the ER for awhile…


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About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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