November 2019

Getting Involved in the Certification for Nurse Educator Program

Getting involved in the National League for Nursing Certified Nurse Educator program can benefit you in many ways – from networking, to advancing academic nursing, to developing lasting personal and professional relationships. You may feel, “How can I find time to be involved?” Time is limited, there are only so many hours in a day – with a busy career and personal life, how can you become involved with the CNE program, how can you make that next step to professional service?  

How do you decide if the NLN CNE program opportunities are right for you? Think about your objectives in terms of how your service helps fulfill your own professional development goals, your school’s strategic goals and the desire for professional recognition and reputation, and the kind of service you want to give.

As a professional organization, the NLN CNE program offers opportunities and connections with others in your field and enhance your career profile. Participating in a national professional organization committee or board says you are very committed to your profession and actively participating in its advancement.

If you volunteer, just don’t show up – actively participate! Attending regular meetings is great for face time, but it may also mean that you’ll get a reputation as an observer instead of a participant. If you really want to get to know people and showcase your own abilities, get involved. These activities build long-lasting relationships and deepen your understanding about test construct, item writing, item analysis, and leadership skills.

Take a moment to visit the NLN Certification for Nurse Educators – Getting Involved. There are three fantastic opportunities to match your passion and availability:

  1. Volunteer as a certification test item writer. There are currently two certification examinations – CNE and CNEcl. The test item writing committees are separate committees with each one committed to specific exams. Some volunteers participate in both committees item writing processes. The program appoints items writers for a two-year term, and the item writing group meets annually to generate new questions. This has now become a virtual activity with video meetings and conference calls. To volunteer for this assignment, a current curriculum vita should be submitted to the director of the certification program. The CV will be reviewed by the test development chairperson and those selected will be assigned to a committee based on the applicant’s request, experience, and talents.
  2. Serve on a test development committee. After gaining experience as an item writer, consider serving on a test development committee. The committee member is asked for two years of service by appointment. The committees meet annually face-to-face at the offices of the test platform provider for psychometric review of active items, review of newly written items, and revision of test items if needed. Other meetings required during the year are done in the virtual mode.
  3. Engage as a potential nominee for open Board of Commissioners open positions. After gaining experience as an item writer and preferably, serving on a test development committee, consider the Board of Commissioners. Interested applicants progress through a nomination process, as do all applicants for NLN elected positions. The elected term of office for the Board is three years.

To submit your CV for consideration, email it to Larry Simmons, Director of Certification Programs, at

Best Regards,

Greetings to all certified nurse educators. I hope that you are enjoying this fall and the activities the fall brings. First of all, let me add my sorrowful farewells to our departing members of the Board of Commissioners. Carmella Mikol has faithfully served two terms (six years) on the Board and has been the Chair of the Test Development Committee for many of those years. Rebecca Peinhardt served one term but worked hard on making sure the Sentinel newsletter went out full of information. We all will miss them both. But I am very happy to welcome two new Board members this fall: Lori Candela and Erin Killingsworth. They are introduced to you by the short biographical statements included below.

The Board of Commissioners also granted the first Certification Recognition award to Peggy Daw of Maryland. Dr. D’Aoust’s comments will describe that event and acknowledgement. The program wishes to make this an annual program recognition award. Criteria will be forthcoming about the nomination process. It is important that we recognize the programs that are making a difference in nurse education certification and support of the Certification Program.

We now have about 7,500 certificants beginning with the inception of the program in 2005 to today. At the one year anniversary, we had about 175 CNEcls also on our rosters.

The due date of certifications was moved to September 30 this year to help us process renewals before actual expiration date of December 31. We received around 300 renewals before the due date, so thanks to everyone who submitted and being aware of the new due date. The due date of September 30 will be the ongoing annual submission date for certificants expiring that year.

The Board of Commissioners met face-to-face in the first week of November in the DC office. This allowed a better timeframe for orientation of new Board members and being quickly acclimated to the work of the Board.

This time of year begins a real holiday season with many celebrations. I wish you all Happy Holidays.

Best regards,
Dr. Larry Simmons


Theresa M. “Terry” Valiga, EdD, RN, CNE, FAAN, ANEF
Professor Emerita, Duke University School of Nursing
Member, CNE Commission (2017-2020)

It is well known that certification recognizes an individual’s expertise in a selected area. In nursing practice, clinicians may pursue certification in a wide range of specialties including, but not limited to, critical care, wound/ostomy care, oncology, case management, pain management, and informatics.  In nursing education, however, there is only one coveted, highly-valued option: the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) program offered by the National League for Nursing (NLN).

Certification as an academic nurse educator establishes nursing education as a specialty area of practice and an advanced practice role within professional nursing. It acknowledges the complexity of the role and the specialized knowledge, skills, and values needed to implement it effectively; and it creates a means for faculty to demonstrate their expertise in the role. Certification also strengthens the use of core competencies of nurse educator practice; and communicates to students, peers, and the academic and health care communities that those who are educating our next generations of nurses are prepared to ensure that the highest standards of excellence are being met. Finally, certification contributes to the ongoing professional development of nurse educators in the role, and it acknowledges their ability to serve as leaders and role models in the higher education community. Without question, certification is the mark of distinction for nursing faculty.

At present, approximately 7,500 academic nurse educators hold the CNE credential, and many of them are providing leadership in their schools of nursing regarding curriculum development, innovative teaching practices, innovative approaches to assessing student learning, evidence-based teaching practices, and – in addition to other areas –  development of the science of nursing education. Thankfully, many of these individuals are providing such leadership through their own initiatives and not through any formal position of authority in the organization. But what would our schools of nursing be like if those who hold positions where they are expected to lead the academic enterprise – deans, academic associate/assistant deans, program directors, department chairs, and so on – also were CNEs?

One could imagine that those individuals who are responsible for the administration of an academic unit or a school and who hold the CNE credential would have a thorough understanding of the need for faculty to have a sound foundation for designing, implementing, and evaluating innovative curricula, and they would ensure that orientation programs for new faculty – most of whom have had no preparation as academic educators – addresses the enhancement of their pedagogical expertise, not only policies, organizational structure, and sources of support for research efforts. These individuals also would appreciate the need to support faculty in their ongoing development as educators and provide philosophical and financial support for teaching fellowships, internal grants to support educational research, mentoring by CNE colleagues, pursuit of CNE certification, consultants and speakers who address pedagogical issues, attendance at education-focused conferences, and similar initiatives. 

Academic administrators who hold the CNE credential also would have demonstrated their commitment to the need for evidence-based teaching practices and development of the science of nursing education.  They might, therefore, include such expectations in advertisements for open faculty positions and charge search committees to seek and pursue candidates with those characteristics. Additionally, CNE academic administrators in nursing might also challenge the reappointment, promotion, and tenure committee – and/or the individuals responsible for conducting the annual evaluation of faculty – to explore ways to measure excellence in teaching other than through student ratings and to consider pedagogical scholarship and impact on the nursing and/or higher education community as valuable achievements in recommending promotion or tenure.

Finally, academic administrators who hold the CNE credential might be more likely to help the entire school achieve a healthy balance of the tripartite mission of most schools – teaching, scholarship, and service – rather than focusing heavily on only one or two of those areas. The primary purpose of institutions of higher learning is education, and all faculty who have responsibility for facilitating student learning should be expected to be highly competent in all eight nurse educator competencies. Deans, academic associate/assistant deans, program directors, department chairs, and other academic administrators play a critical role in ensuring the quality and effectiveness of the academic programs for which they are responsible. Is it unreasonable to expect that they would be able to fulfill that responsibility and provide true leadership in the academic enterprise more powerfully and effectively if they held the CNE credential? I think so, and I congratulate and thank those academic administrators in nursing who are CNEs.



Lori Candela
Associate Professor

 BHS 462

Lori Candela was elected to the NLN Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) Board of Commissioners in 2019. She has been a nurse educator for 27 years, teaching at the ADN AND, RN-BSN, BSN, MSN, DNP and PhD levels. For the past 15 years, she has been teaching primarily online courses and has received several School of Nursing and university level awards, most recently including the university SoTL award, the university distinguished professor award and the graduate faculty award for student mentoring. Dr. Candela was in the first group in 2005 to sit for the Certified Nurse Educator examination. Her commitment to excellence in teaching has resulted in numerous national and international presentations on best practices in teaching as well as ongoing mentoring for faculty and both within and beyond her School of Nursing. Her research focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Most recently, she has been working with a nurse faculty group to develop and test a theoretical model for patient discharge teaching with nursing students using an online learning module and patient simulations. Over the years, she has held both department chair and interim associate dean positons. Since 2005, Dr. Candela has practiced, part time, as a family nurse practitioner in primary care and home care.


Erin Killingsworth
Clinical Associate Professor

Erin Killingsworth, PhD, RN, CNE is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Louise Herrington School of Nursing at Baylor University in Dallas, Texas. She has been a nurse educator for over 10 years and has taught prelicensure, master’s, and doctoral nursing students. Dr. Killingworth’s scholarly work focuses on student and program evaluation, instrument development and validation, and simulation-based learning experiences. She has previously served on the task force to develop academic clinical nurse educator competencies, the certification test item writing committees, and the certification test development committee.