Annika Arzikovic | RN, CAPA

My Certification Story

I have been an RN for over thirty years with primary practice in ICU, PACU and SDS. Initially, I had no intention of taking the exam, but as the importance of certification increased in my specialty, I made the decision to do it. Although becoming certified was not mandatory, I could see that it was becoming highly recommended if I wanted to stay at my current income level. Historically, my biggest issue has always been extreme test anxiety. Ultimately, I decided that I had to try. I studied with a friend, and used a review book (not on Appendix D) and cross referenced it with one reference from Appendix D. I will never forget how terrible I felt when I looked at the word “Fail” on the screen. I cried the entire way home and told myself that I would never take this exam again. When the results were finally mailed to me, I found that I had only missed by six points. After about a year, I decided to try once more. I didn’t tell anyone for fear of failing again. This time I studied in a different manner and it worked. Seeing the word “Pass” was the best feeling ever.

My Study Strategies

The second time I took the exam I reviewed the Test Blueprint and focused on the areas I found most difficult: anesthesia medications, the different blocks, potential negative reactions to the blocks, etc. Unlike my first time, when I relied too heavily on just one ABPANC–approved reference, I studied from a wide variety of sources that were listed in Appendix D. I took advantage of my Hospital Library, which had many of these references. I took ABPANC’s Practice Exams at the start of my studying and twice before the actual test. The month before the test, all I did was work and study but seeing that wonderful word “PASS” made it all worth it.

My Benefits

I do have to say passing the test has boosted my self-esteem, professionally and personally. I am happy about this accomplishment and proud of myself for overcoming my test anxiety. My CAPA certification was also instrumental in helping me maintain my status as a Level 4 Expert RN and to be at the top of my pay grade. Finally, I feel a lot more confident when asked questions by patients and their families.

My Advice

As for anyone that did not pass the first time: it is honestly worth trying again for your own personal accomplishment, to boost your knowledge base, and to strengthen your practice. Just take your time, study the Test Blueprint and focus on the areas that challenge you the most. Check to make sure that the references you use are on Appendix D. Take advantage of ABPANC’s Practice Exams (they are very similar in construction and format to the actual test). Be sure to read ABPANC’s Certification Candidate Handbook carefully. Find an ABPANC coach in your area for guidance and study tips, or if you want to utilize a study group. It is all worth it. We are nurses, we do not give up and we only get stronger!