5 Common Reasons People Fail the CPNE®

While there are numerous things that can factor into a failure of the CPNE®, there are a handful of common mistakes that will buy you a ticket back home in short hurry. Be sure you do not make these mistakes during testing weekend.

1. Nerves. One of the most common mistakes students make during the CPNE® is letting their nerves get the best of them. Time and time again reports come in that the examiners were fair, the scenarios straightforward but due to the immense pressure of testing nerves sabotage the whole ordeal. Do your best to strengthen your stress management techniques to keep yourself in check during testing. Every person has a different way of dealing with anxiety whether it is medication, deep breathing, visualization, herbal remedies, etc find out what works for you and be sure to bring those strategies with you to the CPNE®.

2. Not identifying the patient. There are a dozen or more times that you are required to ID your patient during your care scenarios. You better know those times like the back of your hand. When in doubt ID. If that means ID’ing your patient a thousand times in the 30 minutes you are in the room, so be it. Every single time you enter the room ID your patient. If you stick your head out of the room to ask the primary nurse a quick question, ID your patient. If a food tray arrives during your implementation be sure that it is for your patient. If you get in the habit of ID’ing throughout the entire PCS, even above and beyond what is required from the study guide, you will be doing yourself a favor.

3. Overthinking careplans. Dozens of students have the unfortunate pleasure of never being allowed to enter the room because they couldn’t get their care plan right. Do not try to reinvent the wheel, keep your care plans simple and to the point. Utilize the information given in the chart, by the primary nurse, and the most recent nursing notes to formulate a plan that is concise and relevant to the patients current condition. Don’t annoy your examiner with fancy diagnoses or attempt to prove you are the smartest nurse by fabricating an elaborate and overdone care plan. Capitalize on those “most used NANDA labels” to get in the habit of drafting easy careplans that can apply to nearly every patient you see.

4. Poor documentation. The study guide clearly states the critical elements that MUST be included in your documentation. Miss one minute detail of these elements and you fail the entire PCS. Don’t get all the way through a care scenario and have this happen to you! Get in the habit of writing your narrative notes and evaluation information exactly as you will during the CPNE®. Your mnemonics are crucial to completing the documentation phase. Chart right from your mnemonics and you will ensure that NO critical elements are omitted. Practice your documentation in handwriting, do NOT type your care plans or narrative notes. Physically writing the forms takes more time than typing. This also helps you get used to writing in the small amount of space allotted for each area.

5. Running out of time. Budgeting your time appropriately is critical for each PCS. You must allow yourself enough time for each phase of your care scenarios to be successful. A common mistake is not allowing enough time at the end for your documentation. Practice enough care plans and documentation to know how long it takes you for each phase, this will then tell you how much time you should plan to spend in the room. Shoot for realistic goals, careplanning for 30 minutes and documenting for 30 minutes giving you an hour and a half in the room with the patient. Keep in mind some patients will be more complex than others and you may end up spending more time in one area than you anticipated. Watch that clock like a hawk and take advantage of any opportunities you have to catch up. If a medication is delayed or you must wait to implement an intervention utilize that time to do some documenting.

If you’re concerned that you can fall into any one of these common traps, consider taking a CPNE® workshop to assure yourself that you will be as prepared as possible to pass your first time.

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