As part of my ongoing path to excellence I had to look at my certifications.
During that time where I thought I knew everything I obtained both my CEN and my CCRN. The CEN was a legitimate certification. I actually knew that stuff. I had been teaching it for years.
The CCRN on the other hand, not so much. I crammed for it. I listened to prep courses and took the test. I used a couple of reputable courses. But I didn’t really learn it. The only things I remember from the tapes are the protamine came from fish eggs, and that if you take to much phosphorus, it can look like you have MS. And I learned I’ll never be able to understand a new york accent. (yeah some of you will be able to figure out who’s tape I listened to.)
I set out to actually learn the material. I started carrying reference material with me. LOTS of books. This was actually the early days of google. I asked questions, Looked stuff up and in 2002 I took the exam again. And FAIL miserably! I went back and discovered I was just skimming the material because I thought I already knew it. I started outlining, and making cheat sheets. I focused my studying on patients I had. Real patients, not simulated ones. I studies the night before and was able to ask questions during rounds.
During the next year, something changed. I had developed the habit of studying and working at it. My standing among my peers and the Docs had risen greatly, to the point were I was asked to give presentation at Tuesday resident grand rounds. It wasn’t until I failed though that i was able to learn my failings and REALLY try to change. in 2005 I took the CCRN exam again and blew through the exam in 20 min, not quite acing it. I still don’t know an IABP wave form from a hole in the wall.
Another thing happened. My co workers watched what I was doing, and started along their own path to excellence. We would meet after work and have study session at Jimmies over breakfast. (Threw that in for my fellow Baltimoreans).
Without intending to, Others were motivated.
My patient care got better. After 20+ years I actually felt that I could call myself a nurse.
Take certifications seriously! Don’t just cram for it. Take a year, set up a plan and work toward it. Go ahead and take the prep course, but do it as a refresher before you take the test.
Where are you on your path to excellence?