Alma Angelina Ballester

Alma Angelina Ballester | BSN, RN, CPAN

My Certification Story

I consider myself a seasoned nurse with experience in a variety of critical settings since I came to the United States. I have been working in the PACU for 13 years, yet it seems I don’t feel accomplished in my field. I have always been a member of ASPAN and attended several conferences and whenever they introduced the newly certified members, I could feel their pride and joy when the audience clapped for them. That gave me motivation. I then challenged myself that, despite my age and being out of school for a long period, I can do it. My manager also reminded me that I promised in the interview that I would try to get certified. Some coworkers have commented that we get the same pay even if we are not certified, but this didn’t change my goal on why I wanted to be certified. For me, it is a validation of my commitment to my craft, that I put extra effort towards my patient care. Most of my experience is in Phase 1 so I took the CPAN and hopefully I will also take the CAPA exam in the near future.

My Study Strategies

My success in passing the CPAN is a commitment to fulfill my goal. I dedicated almost two hours every day for almost four months, reading the Drain’s Peri Anesthesia Nursing: A Critical Care Approach, ASPAN’s Perianesthesia Nursing Standards, Practice Recommendations, and Interpretive Statements; answering practice questionnaires from different reviewers, and using the Perianesthesia Nursing Core Curriculum – Preoperative, Phase I and Phase II PACU Nursing as reference for the rationale. I subscribed to the weekly practice exam questions that ABPANC sent to my email and bought the two sets of the BOGO questions and used these practice tests in the last two weeks prior to my exam date.

My Benefits

Obtaining my certification gave me self-satisfaction and pride that I know my field of expertise not only based on experience but also I am backed up by knowledge to deliver safe and better patient care. As a support to nurses who passed the certification, my organization provides incentives in terms of a monetary reward, recognition through a newsletter, posting of our name on the board for certified staff, and the privilege of wearing an ID identifying me as a Certified RN. I gained respect for the hard work I put in to obtain the certification, and I became a coach to one of my co-workers who took and passed the CPAN exam.

My Advice

It takes dedication and perseverance to get what you want. Trust yourself that you can do it. Don’t be discouraged, stay motivated. Always think positively! You need to study, study and study and do not just rely on your knowledge based on experience. Build your own study plan, and use all the recommended materials that are provided on the ABPANC website. Again, you can do it too.