The CPNE Grid: Why You Need It and How to Use It

When I first started studying for the CPNE, I have to admit I was lost. Sure, there was a lovely 500 page study guide for me to read, and I read every word. I was still lost. Then I went online and did some searching for CPNE tips and tricks, and one of the first things I came across was a reference to a grid. That’s when I started to panic. I had no idea what a grid was, what it was for, or why I needed one.

Thankfully, I made the wise decision to attend a CPNE workshop where I found out that a CPNE grid was simply a tool used by the students taking the exam to help keep them organized and focused. If you’re not sure what a CPNE grid is or whether you even need to use one, you might want to consider the following reasons why a grid is vital if you want to pass the CPNE.

1. It will help keep you organized. One of the best uses of a grid is to jot down every assessment, intervention, and vital sign you need to do so you can remember every assignment you have for that particular patient. Even though you can carry your PCS paperwork into the room with you, having all the information you need on the same sheet of paper will make things a lot simpler for you. You will have plenty to do in that room and anything you can do to simplify the process will definitely pay off. Consider it your to-do list that keeps you on track during implementation and your cheat sheet for documentation to be sure that no critical elements are left behind.

2. It will help you chart. After you leave your patient’s room, it’s time to do all that wonderful paperwork. Having your grid completed will give you a guide from which you can chart. Not only will it have all of your interventions and assessments, it will also have any notes you have made to jog your memory as you put everything on paper. Without your grid, you will have to rely solely on memory which is difficult to do under normal circumstances, and even harder to do when you are stressed out because you want to pass the CPNE.

3. It will remind you of the things you need to do. When used correctly, the CPNE grid can be an invaluable resource. By placing each assignment in a different block and jotting down your mnemonic with it, you have given yourself a basic step-by-step guide to see you through each skill. Then, as you complete each assessment and intervention, you will be more confident that you have included every critical element because you had your grid to help you through.

4. It will give you a place to jot down notes. During your Patient Care Scenarios. you will need a place to keep notes, and your CPNE grid is the place to do this. Using this tool will ensure that all of your notes and pertinent information are in one place, on one sheet of paper, so you don’t have to use a lot of precious time flipping through your entire PCS packet to find out where you put that last blood pressure or temperature reading. The best part is you can use your own shorthand, abbreviations, and note-taking shortcuts as this piece of paper will not be graded.

5. It will help ensure your success. When it comes to the CPNE, you should capitalize on every advantage you can find. Using a grid is one easy way to keep you organized so you can pass the CPNE. Although the grid itself is a standard tool that a lot of students use, the beauty of it is you can customize it to fit your needs and make it just what you need to succeed.

Constructing the CPNE Grid:

CPNE GridTo construct “the grid” you simply divide a sheet of paper into boxes, generally speaking about 12 boxes equally divided in rows. Each box will represent an area of care item that you have been assigned and therefore organizes your time both in the room and during documentation. Simply reference the boxes as you move through implementation to make sure you’re hitting all of the critical elements along the way and re-reference during documentation so that you remember to include all of the necessary elements in your notes.

For each area of care write the corresponding mnemonic in the box. Personal preference dictates whether you wish to write the entire mnemonic, key words, or just the first letters of each action item. Whatever works for your brain! Once you enter the room you can peek at your cheat sheet that has nicely organized your tasks and mark pertinent data along the way checking off each item as you go. Forget what you’re doing in the middle of implementation? Just pull out your grid and get back on track.

Everyone has their own way of writing the grid and deciding what information to include. At a bare minimum you should include a box for your intro into the room, a box for each area of care assigned, and a box to calculate intake and output totals. In spare boxes you can choose to write in things like baseline data, a sequence of events, medications, your exit script, etc. It can be helpful to use a different colored pen to write in data during implementation and to check off each ‘to-do’ item for easy reference.

When it is time to chart simply reference your grid that contains the mnemonics for each area of care and be confident that you are including all of the necessary critical elements in your notes. Consider the grid your life raft in the midst of patient care scenario chaos!

Everyone who takes this exam should use a CPNE grid. If you are unfamiliar with the grid itself or how to use one, the best place to find that information would be at a good CPNE workshop. Not only will you find out how to make and use a grid, you will also get the personalized attention you need to pass the CPNE.

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