Review CDs. You do not need to buy the latest and greatest. I started out with a set (CDs and manual) from 2011. Most of the information was still accurate, and what was not (JNC 7 and 8, pap guidelines, etc.) I had just learned about. I don't know about your program but my professors always made a big deal about it, "These are the newest guidelines, they just changed in the last 2 years". So you will already be familiar with the latest changes and can update the manual based on your knowledge.
Check out both eBay and Amazon both for available study sets. You may even consider purchasing just the CDs without the manual. Look at your options and see where you can get the best bang for your buck. I purchased an older bundle (the CDs, a manual, and two review books) for less than $150. Watch and wait, your best buys may be in July and August when most students have passed their boards and the market is glutted with review sets. When you find a good deal, grab it!
Search for "Family Nurse Review", "FNP review," and similar. If you want a specific lecturer, search for him/her. Watch the prices, check out what they are selling for, make a choice, and then a bid. I use Gixen.com for my bids, it places the bid in the last few seconds (yes, I am an eBay sniper), and I can bid on several sets (grouped together in Gixen) and Gixen automatically cancels the other bids once I win one. It's a great auction aid (I am not an affiliate, just a regular user of this service.)
As soon as you get your CDs, start listening to them every chance you get, just in the background for now. Later on you will do an intensive study with the CDs.
While you are waiting for your books and CDs to get here, research and decide which test you will take. Both the AANP and the ANCC certifications are well-accepted. Talk to your preceptors, ask which one they took and why. Do some internet searches as well. MidLevelU has some good articles about how to decide which one to choose. Make the decision that is right for you and your philosophy.
I can share a little about my thoughts and why I chose AANP.
- first of all, I want to be associated with an organization for Nurse Practitioners. That may sound a bit elitist, but dog-gone it, I worked hard to be more than a nurse and I am going to associate myself with organizations that promote that. My perceptions are probably also affected by my first certification through the American College of Nurse Midwives where it is not an option to get certified through ANCC. When it came to NP certification, I didn't even consider a nursing certification, I went straight to the NP organization.
- financially, it costs less to be certified through AANP. And I joined as a student member in the last semester, which saved me even more. Why pay more if you do not have to, especially as a student? See the exact costs here.
- let's be honest, both tests are hard but with the AANP exam I did not have to concentrate on learning the additional 23% information on ethics, research, etc. that the ANCC covers. I was able to focus strictly on clinical concepts and get my knowledge base firm in those areas. I know and will continue to learn about the other concepts but I did not have to worry about them for the exam. I strive to be an excellent clinical practitioner first and wanted to focus my study on that.
- as of 2015, the requirements for re-certification also differ. ANCC requires time as a student preceptor, and AANP does not. This is set to change in the future but for now it is a selling point. If you do not preceptor a student, you must do double the hours of CEU (300 instead of 150 in 5 years!) for ANCC re-certification. And it is not just the time to preceptoring students, it is the paper work involved as well to validate your preceptor-ship.
- once you join there are all kinds of free CEUs that you can use for state and national requirements. Be sure to check this out and take advantage of it. I find that pharmacology hours are the hardest to find so I look for those first. ANCC may also offer this, does anyone know?
So while your waiting for your study materials to arrive, do a little soul searching and think about which certification you might prefer.
What path did you choose for certification and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below. To move on to Part Three, click here.
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Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP