CCRN Study Guide
A Critical care nurse provides a high level of care to critically and acutely ill patients who need round the clock nursing and treatment at an intense level. Although a registered nurse can work in critical care, they will be limited to the amount of work they can do and cannot work unsupervised which can be frustrating, especially if you have the knowledge and experience. The only way you can become qualified is to take the CCRN examination and pass. To pass the first time, there is a lot you will need to learn. Follow these tips and ace it your first time around!
Critical care nurse duties include, but are not limited to; taking regular tests to establish the patient’s vitals and recording them. You will also need to be able to send off for, read and understand test results. To be a proficient nurse in these fields, you will need to explain results and patient status’s to people who know all of the medical terminology. You are also responsible for knowing how to communicate and empathize with family members of patients who also do not generally understand medical terminology, so a full understanding is necessary.
Working full time as a nurse, as most people preparing for the test do, can leave very little time to study or to attend classes that can help you to achieve your goal. Using online tools can help you to get the information you need, remember it and see where your weak points are. The online tools allow you to study when you have the free time, so you don’t have to do so on a set schedule that may clash with your work schedule.
Mock exam papers can allow you to take the practice tests and check your answers to see where you are going wrong. This allows you to target those areas, so that you may improve your chances of passing. Always use information that is up to date, as the procedures and other areas of working as a critical care nurse are subject to change, especially with the constant advancements in technology. Using old information could mean that you study as hard as possible, but still do not get the score level required to pass and receive certification. Take as many quizzes as you possibly can with an aim to receive the highest possible score.
The CCRN exam focuses a lot on pulmonary and cardio, so these are areas you should ensure you know as much about as possible. Many of the other parts you will already know as a nurse who has worked with critical care patients. What you also need to remember is that following other nurses in critical care is a great idea, but the information they have received could be up to three years out of date. Good intentions from staff may include giving you resource papers, but be sure ask whether they are relevant to the test you are going to be taking.
You will have to answer 125 questions on the exam, of them you will need to answer 89 correctly to receive your certification. You will not know the full content until you sit down to take the exam because it can change, so steer clear of anyone offering cheat papers or similar, as they are not given by the governing bodies and can actually hinder your chances of passing while risking the lives of the patients you are hoping to save and nurse back to health.
If you work on a regular ward, ask if there are any opportunities, even as overtime, for you to work in the critical care unit, even if it is just as an extra pair of hands to assist. It is easier for most to remember the procedures and treatments that they have seen administered, rather than trying to picture them from text in a book or on screen. This kind of unit is usually crying out for extra help, allowing you to gain overtime, build a rapport with staff you might be working with in the future and help you to familiarize yourself with the latest equipment. Even if you already have experience in a previous place of work, but have started somewhere new, the experience you gain in their critical care unit, can help you to pass the CCRN.
You should study in conditions that you feel comfortable in. Studying in a busy area with a lot going on around you could mean that you do not take in all of the information. Ensure you read all of the information more than once, if there is anything you don’t totally understand, you should ask someone in the field to explain it in more detail. Just remembering text from a book will not help you to answer questions that are phrased differently than the actual examination questions. Videos of certain procedures can be found on YouTube so that you can view what has been represented in the text, in practice. Ensure the videos you use for your studies are recent, so that you are not learning about procedures that may be outdated or have been amended. Doing so could make the difference between you getting a question right or wrong.
You must practice regularly and if possible, get a member of the critical care team to help with your revision. They will be able to point out where you are going wrong and may even be able to provide you with additional resources.
Brush up on the law surrounding critical care and familiarize yourself with any changes. Do not take the test if you are not doing well on the mock examination papers. It is better to reschedule for a later date than to take it, fail and need to pay again for a retest.
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