Kathleen Lombardo | MS, RN, AOCNS, CAPA

My Certification Story

Eight years into my nursing career, I admit the primary reason for transferring to the PACU was for the better hours that the job offered! Little did I know that in the PACU I would discover and fulfill my full passion for nursing! PACU patients depend on a competent, knowledgeable, caring and expert nurse to advocate for their needs at the bedside. Certification seemed a logical path to ensure that I would be the best resource for their needs and a role model to my peers. Now, 29 years later, the PACU is still my passion and being certified remains one of my greatest sources of pride.

My Study Strategies

To prepare for the exam, I set aside a few hours every weekend for about three months before my test date. I purchased an updated edition of the recommended Core Curriculum and a text book from ABPANC’s study reference list, and reviewed the ASPAN standards. I also purchased two practice exams to help me identify the areas where I needed the most study. At work I picked the brains of every friendly CRNA who passed me by, and enjoyed the support of my nursing colleagues who were cheering me on!

My Benefits

Since becoming certified, I have continually enjoyed mentoring new staff and acting as a PACU resource person. I became interested in the item writing process and attended my first item writing workshop in 2008. I wanted to contribute to the value of the certification exam by developing questions that would focus on the knowledge base that a safe and competent certified PACU nurse should know. As a novice item writer, I had good ideas for questions, but lacked some of the writing skills needed to create a good item. The committee members were all very supportive and worked with me to help develop my ideas into complete questions. I love the process of item writing. You can think of a question in the morning based on a clinical experience at work, and enter it later in the day via the electronic program that is provided. You will receive constructive feedback from a seasoned item writer and CEU’s for submitting! I recently became the Co-Chair of the Item Writing Committee and challenge you to consider item writing! Working with certified nurses from across the country, sharing similar patient care issues and collaborating on developing an excellent exam, is for me, the best result of my journey.

If you are CPAN/CAPA certified and are interested in Item Writing, please contact Marlene Dunham at mdunham@proexam.org.

My Advice

If you don't pass the exam on the first try, don't give up! You are already exhibiting your desire to be the best perianesthesia nurse that you can be and you should be applauded! Try to think of your first attempt as just another practice exam, focus on those areas that you felt least confident, and review those topics before you try again. I'm sure with your desire to become the best, to become certified, you will succeed!