Pam Terwilleger

Pam Terwilleger | BSN, RN-BC, CPAN, CAPA

My Certification Story

My certification story started back in 2004. I wanted to learn more about being a Perianesthesia nurse. I had worked in a Pre-Op/ Phase II PACU for about a year and a half and I loved it. I had found my niche. I did some internet research and discovered I could become certified in my new specialty. I spoke to my manager about certification and she put me in touch with our educator. As it turned out there were no other certified nurses in our specialty at our hospital and she was interested in becoming certified as well. We formed a study group that included another PACU nurse. The three of us had knowledge and experiences that we could share with one another to help each other out on our journey to certification. We formulated a plan and sent for the "Core Curriculum", three "Redi-Refs" and a copy of "Drain's Perianesthesia Nursing: A Critical Care Approach". We each printed out a copy of the Certification Candidate Handbook. Our timeline followed the 12 week study plan we found on the ABPANC site. We studied on our own and met every other Saturday to discuss what we read and ask each other questions. With one PACU nurse with years of experience and an ICU background, one educator who had worked PACU and ICU and one Pre-Op nurse, we knew we could use each other as resources. I remember being very intimidated about the pharmacology and studying the gases and medications. The educator phoned a friend who was a former CRNA instructor and she came to tutor us for the small price of coffee and donuts one Saturday morning. It is all about using your resources. We stuck to our timeline and registered for the exam at week nine of twelve. That gave us the incentive to keep going. We drove together to take the test after three months of study and were all successful. I was so grateful to have shared the journey with these wonderful coworkers.

My Study Strategies

We used the practice tests from ABPANC to help us identify our strengths and weaknesses. They were very helpful. We took one before we started, one half way through and then another at the end of 12 weeks. We could see progress which was encouraging. As I read Drain's PeriAnesthesia Nursing" I made flash cards and I used the Redi-Ref a lot. I kept the flash cards in my pocket at work and would review during breaks. I did the same with the Redi-Ref since it conveniently fits in a pocket.

My Benefits

Obtaining that CAPA certification validated my expertise in Perianesthesia. I became more confident. I am very proud to have been among the first certified Perianesthesia nurses at our hospital. I have since moved and now work as an educator. I went on to become dually certified and have become a certification champion. I help others to achieve their career goals by becoming certified.

My Advice

My advise is to make a plan that works for you. Be realistic, study hard and do not give up. Be proud of your specialty and become certified. Show coworkers and colleagues you are an expert in your field. Be the example of high quality, evidence based, patient centered care on your unit. Your patients will benefit and appreciate it and it is personally and professionally worth it.