Diana Hanson | BSN, RN, CAPA
My Certification Story
I started my current career as a SPA (Surgical Prep Area) nurse nine years ago. I had been a Certified Emergency Nurse for many years and missed being and acknowledged expert on my unit. I decided to make certification my goal after an annual review. No one else in was certified in any specialty at the time. I started looking into it and attended a certification seminar where I learned new test taking strategies and got lots of encouragement to “jump in”! I didn’t feel prepared at the time so I put it off for 1 year then took the plunge. At the time, it was a lonely journey, as I didn't tell anyone I was taking the exam. I wish I hadn't been so secretive. My unit now has study groups to help those interested in taking the exam. If only I could have had that opportunity! I was so happy when the computer screen said "passed" I don't think I've ever smiled so much before or since. I am so proud to show my certification on my badge. I am now a one person bandwagon for certification and encourage all of my co-workers to do the same.
My Study Strategies
The Certification Candidate Handbook became my roadmap and with the help of the Hospital librarian and even my local library, I was able to obtain almost all the books on the Reference List. I studied mornings 4 days a week and made flash cards for every drug I came across. I had just renewed my ACLS so I felt comfortable with rhythm strips and code drugs. I had obtained a position assisting anesthesia with nerve blocks, so I spent less time on that. I also used my ED experience and applied my ABC's (Airway Breathing and Circulation). I am an avid romance novel reader and would treat myself with a few chapters of a romance for every few chapters of study. I believe in positive reinforcement and I would set a study goal and then give myself a treat, shopping, movie etc. (NOT food!)
Our hospital gives you a badge that goes with your ID that states RN and Certified. Those of us with this badge are a growing group and I think we all walk a little taller while wearing it! We have an annual Certification day where we receive a flower or some other small memento and sign a banner that sits in our administrators hallway. I have become a leader on our unit and am eager to help in PACU when the need arises. Even though I am nearing the end of my career, I will have been a nurse for 40 years in May, I can't imagine NOT remaining certified and being a continued expert resource for my co-workers.
Give yourself plenty of time. Attend any class you can and purchase the ABPANC practice exams. The practice exams really pointed out area's I was weak in and I was able to spend more time with those areas. All the test taking strategies ABPANC offers are helpful, but I think the most important one is to make sure you find your testing center BEFORE you go for you test. I enjoy encouraging all who wish to become certified and don't think poorly of anyone who doesn't make it the first try. I believe that I would have tried again if I hadn't passed; the confidence of certification is worth the effort.