The Certified Transport Registered Nurse Exam (CTRN) offered by the Board of Certifications for Emergency Nurses (BCEN) is designed to determine whether you possess the basic skills and knowledge that critical care ground transport nurses need to effectively perform their job. The test is reevaluated every four years so that it can remain as up to date as possible with current best practices.
Each time it is reevaluated, a number of nurses that hold this designation, along with educational program instructors that focus on this nursing specialization take a job survey that asks them to provide details of what they do on the job and what skills and knowledge are vital. In the most recent reevaluation, 800 nurses and educators responded to the BCEN survey. From this survey, questions are developed, reviewed, and eventually appear on the exam.
Topics covered on the CTRN Exam
The BCEN provides all examinees with a complete list of what is covered on the CTRN exam. You can find this information on the BCEN website. Below is a list of the topics, and how many questions are asked on each topic. There are 155 questions on the CTRN exam.
- General principles of practice, 19 questions. This section includes transport physiology, communications, and safety and survival.
- Resuscitation principles, 27 questions. This section asks questions about patient assessment and preparation, airway management, and mechanical ventilation.
- Trauma, 26 questions. Subjects covered in this section include general principles of trauma management, and the many different types of trauma, such as neurologic, orthopedic, and burn trauma.
- Medical emergencies, 38 questions. This section covers all types of emergencies like cardiovascular, abdominal, and pulmonary emergencies.
- Special populations, 14 questions. Included in this section are questions about complications of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
The CTRN exam is taken using a computer. If you would prefer taking the exam with pencil and paper, you can choose to do it that way. You will need to schedule the test during a time when it is administered that way. You have 90 days to schedule the exam once you receive your eligibility confirmation. You will schedule to take the exam at an Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) location near you. The test is given Monday through Friday during the day.
You will need to get at least 75 percent of the questions correct in order to pass the exam. If you don’t pass the exam, you are allowed to retake it as many times as you’d like. However, you will need to reapply and pay the fee each time you take it. You will be given three hours to complete all of the questions. The questions on the test are various forms of multiple choice.
Eligibility and benefits of taking the CTRN Exam
Eligibility and benefits of taking the CTRN Exam: If you are a registered nurse who specializes in critical ground transport nursing, you should consider taking the Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN) exam and earning certification. The CTRN is offered through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nurses (BCEN) in Des Plaines, Illinois. Every five years the organization completes a study to make sure that the exam represents the must up to date skills, knowledge, and practices used by critical care ground transport nurses. Earning certification can provide you with many benefits.
Benefits of Earning Your CTRN Certification
Like any other certification, there are a lot of benefits you can receive after earning your CTRN. Before you choose to register for the CTRN, however, you should make sure you are serious about continuing a career in this area of nursing. It takes time and money to register for, study, and pass the CTRN exam, so this kind of nursing should be something you are very sure about.
So what are some of these benefits?
- First of all, while certification is not a requirement to get a job as a critical care ground transport nurse, more employers are looking for candidates who do have certifications. This is because candidates who have certification are viewed by employers as being committed to the profession, being interested in learning additional skills, and making an effort to stay up to date on best practices in this specialization. With many certifications, candidates are also asked to declare their compliance with ethical and/or professional standards.
- If you already have a great job, certification enforces your commitment to your job with your current company. It can also lead to more responsibility, a promotion, or other recognition. Your employer may ask you to train new employees or you may be asked to supervise other nurses because your company knows you have the basic skills and knowledge needed to effectively perform the job.
How do I know if I’m Eligible to take the CTRN?
All that’s really required for you to register for the CTRN exam is to be a registered nurse with a current, unlimited license. The BCEN also recommends that you work as a critical care ground transport nurse for at least one to two years before taking the exam, but that is not a requirement. There is also no specific educational requirement, since registered nurses can earn their licenses in a few ways that don’t require a college degree. It’s pretty simple, really: to be eligible you just need to be a registered nurse with a current unrestricted license. Unfortunately, if you’re an LPN or other type of nurse, you can’t pursue this certification.
Make sure you visit the BCEN website to determine whether the CTRN is the right exam for you. The BCEN also offers the CFRN, which is for registered nurses who care for patients during flight transport rather than ground transport. Some nurses work in both environments. If that is the case, the BCEN recommends that you pursue certification in the environment that represents the largest patient population that you serve. You also have the option of gaining certification in both environments. If you’re not sure which exam is appropriate for your current situation, you can call the BCEN, or discuss it with your manager. Both certifications can provide the same benefits. If you’re planning to retire soon, you also have the option of keeping your certification with the retired designation. In order to do that, you need to have been certified through the BCEN for the last four years or one complete certification term; you must have a current, unrestricted license as a registered nurse; and be retired or planning to retire from nursing (that includes teaching as well).
How to Register for the CTRN Exam
If you’ve made the decision to become a Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN) the next step you’ll need to take is to register for the exam. The exam is offered by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nurses (BCEN), which is part of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). The BCEN offers a great deal of information on its website, so that’s a great place to go if you have any questions throughout the registration process.
One of the first things you should keep in mind is that you will have 90 days to take the exam once you’ve successfully registered. If you don’t think you will be prepared to take the exam in 90 days, you should wait to register. When you are ready to register, the process is not difficult, but you need to read and follow all of the instructions the BCEN provides if you want things to go smoothly.
Complete an Application
First you need to review the eligibility requirements. If you’re not a registered nurse with an unrestricted, current license, you will not be able to take the exam. Also remember that the BCEN recommends that you work for a year or two in a critical care ground transport setting before applying for certification. That doesn’t mean you can’t apply prior to getting that experience, but you may find it much easier to earn the certification if you do.
The application is available online at the BCEN website. Before accessing the application, however, you need to set up on account. If you are an ENA member, you have applied for other certifications, or you have taken classes through the ENA, you will already have an account. If you don’t know what the log-on ID and password are for your account, you will need to contact the BCEN or ENA. Once your account is set up, you can download and complete the application. You can also submit the application online, which will get you the fastest results. Don’t forget that you will need to include your payment with your
application. The fee for initial certification for ENA members is $230, and for nonmembers it is $370. If you’re applying for recertification by using continuing education credits the fee for members is $210 for ENA members and $350 for nonmembers. You will need to use a credit card to submit your payment with your registration.
Once your application and payment have been submitted, you should receive an e-mail from the BCEN within 48 hours letting you know that they have been received and you are registered. The confirmation e-mail will also include information about your 90-day test window and other instructions for the exam. The BCEN has written and published a Candidate Handbook that provides all the details you need to know about taking the exam, from what forms of ID you need to take to the center, to what other items you are allowed to take, how you will receive your score, and the rules and regulations you need to know. The handbook also contains sample questions. Taking the time to read through the hand book will ensure that you have a good understanding of the testing procedure and rules, and should answer any questions you may still have. In case it doesn’t, you can contact the BCEN by sending an e-mail or calling the organization by phone.
Once you’ve received your eligibility verification, you will need to call Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. to schedule your exam. AMP has contracted with BCEN to administer the test. You can schedule the exam online by visiting the AMP website, or by phone.
Study Resources for the CTRN Exam
The Certified Transport Registered Nurse exam (CTRN) offered by the Board of Certifications for Emergency Nurses (BCEN) is not a test anyone should consider taking unless he or she has spent a considerable amount of time studying for it. Although you don’t have to have experience as a ground transport nurse to be eligible to take the exam, the BCEN does recommend that you get at least a year or two of on the job training and experience. In addition, you should plan to obtain and use several study resources before sitting for the exam.
Study Resources for the CTRN ExamCTRN Handbook and Study Guides
One of the first resources you should turn to as you begin to study for the CTRN is the handbook provided free of charge to all CTRN examinees. In addition to containing all of the detailed information you need to know about taking the test, such as the registration process, rules and regulations, etc., the handbook also provides details about the exam itself. These details include a breakdown of each test section and what topics are covered. For example, the handbook says there are 10 items covering Substance Abuse/Toxicological/Environmental emergencies. Then it goes on to list several subjects within that category that appear on the exam, such as manage the patient with a cold injury, measure/normalize core body temperature, and assess patient for signs of envenomation. The handbook will give you a very good idea of what you need to study. It also contains sample questions that will help you understand the exam format and procedures.
The BCEN also provides a document called “Create a Study Plan” that gives you tips and advice for developing an exam preparation plan. If you’ve taken other certification tests before, you may already know how to develop a study plan. If you haven’t, reading this information can be of great benefit to you.
Once you know what you need to study, you’ll need to obtain study guides. Most testing experts recommend that you get at least two different guides so that you are exposed to as much content as possible. You can find a number of study guides for sale online. To make sure you’re buying a guide that will meet your needs, do some research. Talk to other nurses who have taken the exam and used guides to ask their opinion on which ones work the best. Compare prices and look at the company—makes sure it is reputable. You can also ask a local nursing school if they can recommend a guide.
In addition to study guides, you’ll also find other tools you can use, for example practice exams and flashcard systems. Taking practice exams helps you to see what areas you are strong in and which areas you need to study. You should plan to take one or two practice exams throughout your preparation period, so you can see if you’re making progress and improving.
Flashcard systems can help you with remembering some of the terms and definitions you’ll need to know. Educators know that flashcard systems are proven to aid with memorization tasks. While they shouldn’t be the only study tool you use, a flashcard system is a great complement to study guides and practice exams.
If you’re not the only nurse planning to take the exam, consider working together with a study partner or as a study group. The advantages to this are that you will schedule study time with your partners, and your partners will hold you accountable for the material you’re assigned to review.
Just make sure you’re not relying on one kind of tool. You should combine two or more tools to effectively prepare for the CTRN exam. Also, if you don’t have on-the-job experience as a ground transport nurse, try to spend a day job shadowing someone performing this job. It will give you a much better idea of all that is involved and what you need to learn.
How to Maintain Your CTRN Certification
Unfortunately, no certification lasts a lifetime. Most certifications and licensures expire in a specific time period and you will need to renew them. Certification boards do this so that they can be sure that you are maintaining your skills and knowledge and keeping them up to date with the latest changes and technologies in the industry. The Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN) certification is no exception. Here are the details you need to know to maintain your certification once it is earned.
CTRN Certification Term and Alternatives for Renewal
The good news is that once you’ve earned the CTRN designation, it is good for four years before you’ll need to renew it. However, don’t wait until the last minute to start the renewal process. The Board of Certifications for Emergency Nurses (BCEN) recommends that you begin the renewal process three months before your certification expires. This will give you plenty of time to submit any documentation needed, and if there are any questions, it will give the BCEN and you time to communicate and clear them up.
You have two alternatives when it comes to eligibility for renewal. You can either take continuing education courses during the four years you are certified, or you can choose take an exam, like you did to get your original certification. There are pros and cons to each option. For example, if your employer does not pay for your continuing education classes or offer them, then taking several classes can be more expensive than taking the exam. However, if you’re busy and don’t have time to prepare for the exam then it might be difficult to pass it and renew your certification. You must weigh the pros and cons and decide which is best for your lifestyle and budget.
Don’t forget that there will be a fee involved, whichever alternative you choose. In fact, the fee is the same for both alternatives: $210 for members of the Emergency Nurses Association, and $350 for nonmembers.
Continuing Ed Details and the Application Process
If you decide to renew your certification using the continuing education alternative, you need to plan ahead. The BCEN requires that you take 100 hours of continuing education in order to renew. That means it will be difficult to complete all 100 hours in a matter of a few months. What works best is to spread out the hours over three and a half years. The BCEN also requires that 75 of these hours are clinical, and the remaining 25 can be “other” professional courses. You may have more than 75 clinical hours. The BCEN defines the “other” category as any educational courses that are related to the emergency care system or the professional practice of nursing. The BCEN cites Legal Aspects of Nursing or Medical Ethics as examples of other coursework that would apply to your CEs.
The ENA offers a continuing education management service for its members. If you’re an ENA member, this is an efficient way to keep track of your hours. The credential manager is available online. You will still need to complete a CE log sheet along with your application.
Whether you’re renewing using CEs or taking the exam, you will still need to complete a renewal application, which is available online at the BCEN website. At the time you apply for renewal you will also need to pay the fee and if you’re using your continuing education units to renew, you will need to complete a log sheet to verify that you’ve met the requirements. You can complete the application online, print it out and mail it U.S. mail to the BCEN, or you can print it out and fax it to BCEN.