Charlotte Maiden | BSN, RN, CPAN, CAPA

My Certification Story

Twelve years ago, I transitioned from a large Level 1 Trauma Center ER, where I was CEN certified and a TNCC Instructor, to a small community hospital PACU. At that time, pretty much all I knew was related to emergency medicine. I found that entering into another specialty exciting and within the first year knew I wanted to become CPAN certified. I found a co-worker who was also interested and together we prepared for the exam. I was humbled when I passed the exam because it let me know I was on the right track with advancing my career as a perianesthesia nurse. I have learned so much since being certified and am very proud to be part of such a wonderful organization.

My Study Strategies

Approximately three years ago, I realized that I wanted my certification as CAPA as well. While I knew that the exam would be rigorous, I was determined to take on this new challenge and set about to prepare myself accordingly. I purchased the ASPAN study guide and spent several hours at night going through the questions and then reviewing what I was not as familiar with, but soon realized that taking the CAPA exam was different because I knew that there were many more resources available to me. ABPANC offers a great list of study resources, as well as reference books, which were wonderful additions to my study regimen. Those books, such as Drain and the ASPAN standards were sources I could use to validate any questions that I felt I needed more information about. Closer to the time of the exam, I also purchased the practice exams that were offered so that I could get a feel for what the testing would be like online, as my CPAN exam was on paper.

My Benefits

I am very proud to be a CPAN and CAPA certified nurse. I am one of only four nurses on my unit who have sat for the exam and the only one dual certified. I continue to encourage my co-workers in the hopes that others will take advantage of this great opportunity and currently there is one nurse who is looking to sit for the exam in May. Being certified has given advantages for advancement on our clinical ladder, but more importantly it has given me satisfaction and pride in having accomplished goals that I set for myself as a new perianesthesia nurse. I became interested in writing questions for the certification exams and at my very first national conference I attended an item writing session and fell in love with the idea of being able to produce questions that might one day be placed on an actual exam. Since that time I have been invited to participate in several item writing workshops and this past January was honored to be included in an exam construction session. Both workshops have taught me so much and it has been an amazing experience to work with such a great group of individuals that are totally dedicated to preparing certification exams and ensuring that the questions included are designed to test our knowledge base about the perianesthesia patients that we provide care for on a daily basis.

My Advice

Never give up! Disappointment is unfortunately a fact of life, but we cannot allow that to keep us from achieving the goals that we set for ourselves. Take some time for yourself after the exam to clear your head and then pick another date and try again. It’s okay to be reluctant, but do not give up something that you want and when you receive your certification it will mean so much more to you than you could have ever imagined.