When I moved to Colorado to start my career in nursing, I got a job on a Surgical/Trauma Step-Down Unit. As part of this job, I was required to attend a number of classes and obtain certifications to better prepare me to care for my trauma patients. The education started with BLS, ACLS, TNCC (Trauma Nursing Core Course), and a class our hospital developed called Beyond the Golden Hour. In addition, my friend Joe and I took another 2-day class called TCAR (Trauma Care After Resuscitation). At TCAR, I got a booklet of review questions for the TCRN test. This is a national certification for trauma nursing offered by the Emergency Nurses Association, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to use this extra education to take my career to the next level.
I did some research on the TCRN test. It would be 175 questions and cost me about $350, and although my hospital would not pay for it up front, they do offer raises to nurses who obtain certifications in their field. I took the leap and signed up for a test date. I felt relatively well prepared with the classes I had taken and my personal experiences caring for trauma patients, but I used the month leading up to the test to study hard. I reviewed information from TNCC, TCAR, Beyond the Golden Hour, and I went through TCRN questions every day.
On test day, I went in feeling confident but still a bit nervous. “What if I fail a $350 test that I didn’t even have to take in the first place?” I thought. “I won’t. I’ll pass.” I reassured myself.
I flashed back to my NCLEX when I got to the testing center. The employee there photographed me, finger printed me, and made me read the rules. I felt like I was being booked for a crime. On the bright side, the testing center was totally silent. I sat down at my assigned computer, took a deep breath, and dove in. Only 175 questions separated me from a national trauma certification.
I won’t bore you with the details of the test, but I got the results as I left the testing center, and guess what? I PASSED! I was stoked. Now I had something tangible to show for all of that education, preparation, and experience. Four more letters I can put after my name: Zach McCluskey, BSN, RN, TCRN
It might not seem like a lot, but those letters mean progression in my career–a step toward my next job in an ICU, as a flight nurse, or as a nurse anesthetist. I also received a cool new TCRN badge reel (see top photo), which, let’s be honest, is the real reason I took the test.