Cidalia Vital | MS, RN, CNL, CPAN
My Certification Story
As a new nurse educator in the perianesthesia department in 2008, I knew it was critical that I take my specialty certification exam. I wanted to demonstrate to my colleagues and patients that it was important for every nurse to become certified. I decided that the most relevant test was the CPAN. I chose CPAN because prior to being the educator, I cared for patients in our Phase I and II inpatient PACU. When I registered for the exam, I used the texts listed in the references on ABPANC’s Study References List. I studied every week! I was asked to join a study group with my fellow preadmission testing nurses but due to time constraints I could never attend. If I had more time I would have gone! I went to an ASPAN review course at the beginning of my study time and used that as a baseline assessment of my knowledge. I also purchased the practice exams. I took one exam at the beginning of studying and then one right before I took the test (this was way before there were 4 practice exams!) When exam day came, I was ready! As a group, my fellow nurses from my organization drove to Boston to MIT to take the exam. We made sure to leave early and leave extra time in case we got lost! It was a long trip to Boston- thinking about the exam and talking about last minute questions and content. It was very nice having support from my coworkers! When we arrived we had to look for the right building and floor. We didn't do a dry run to the site as it was a 2 hour drive from home. Once we sat down to take our paper and pencil exam we put our studying to test, literally! We left with a sense of calm but also uncertainty. We had to wait about 8 weeks to get our results (luckily, nurses taking today no longer have to do so!). I received a nice Christmas present- I passed!!!
My Study Strategies
When I took the CPAN exam, there were not nearly as many resources available as there are now. Most of ABPANC’s resources are free—and I would definitely encourage you to use them. You must study from books on ABPANC’s Study References List! For me, it was also very helpful to take the practice exams, and to speak to nurses who took the test. These RN's can provide great insight on how to study and what worked for them. I highly recommend having a solid study plan. ABPANC offers a wonderful tool that delineates a 12 week study plan. I highly recommend using it to lay out your study plan. Review the Certification Candidate Handbook cover to cover. Eat well the day of the test and go in with positive thoughts!
Becoming CPAN certified increased my self confidence, as well as enjoyment of my role in perianesthesia. When I attended the ASPAN conferences I would always visit the ABPANC booth and get my CPAN ribbon and CPAN pin. Many of the board members would ask me to become more involved in sharing my passion for certification to others. I applied to become an ABPANC Board member. The rigorous interview process was well worth it. I love being a professional volunteer for ABPANC! I encourage anyone who is looking to advance their career and leadership abilities and share their passion to consider a self-nomination for a position on the board. It has been a wonderful learning experience. I also have the honor to serve on the Practice Exam Committee where I put my true knowledge to the test by reviewing test questions!
You may need to think outside the box to figure out what study strategies work for you. If you don’t pass the first time, assess what you did for studying and adjust your plan the second time around. Stick with it! Never give up! You can do it!