Debra Burchi | BSN, RN, CPAN

My Certification Story

I have been a nurse for 19 years, nine of them in the PACU. For years I felt that certification was not what I needed to do my job. But as I thought more about it, I realized that becoming CPAN certified would make me better at doing my job. Deciding to study for CPAN was definitely a personal decision and accepting the fact that it would take a lot of time and commitment was part of that choice. Unfortunately, I did not make this decision quick enough to allow adequate time to study. The exam was difficult, and ultimately I did not pass. When the tears stopped, I drove home and told my anxious family how I did. After a couple of months, I decided to retake the exam. I had such a great foundation of knowledge just from studying the first time that I couldn't just stop there. I also had to be an example for my children. "Don't quit! Try again! Keep trying!" are words I know I would tell them if the situation was reversed. How could I not follow my own advice?

My Study Strategies

The second time around, I was determined to leave enough time to study and I studied from references found in ABPANC’s Appendix D study list. Studying the ASPAN Standards was imperative. I also found Drain's "Perianesthesia Nursing: A Critical Care Approach" and Schick & Windle's "Perianesthesia Nursing Core Curriculum" to be incredibly helpful. I think I read over 2000 pages! I studied surgeries not performed at my hospital. I did look up answers to some of the difficult questions I had on the exam that I felt I missed. Flash cards worked for memorization, and note taking reinforced what I had read. YouTube helped me to see actual procedures or lectures.

My Benefits

It was known that I was studying for CPAN and therefore I was chosen to sit on our unit-based committee as the PACU's Magnet Ambassador as our hospital begins the journey to Magnet status. With Magnet Ambassador and CPAN Certification on my resume, I feel the possibilities are endless for movement in my career. Since I am the newest CPAN nurse in my unit, coworkers have come to me for information on the process and I have been able to offer help if they decide to start their own CPAN journey. Personally, I feel a great sense of achievement. No one can take CPAN from me! I earned it! I deserve it!

My Advice

Don't give up! Try it again! You've gained so much just from studying, you can build on that. Take it from me I've been there! My family has been there! You can pass!