Testing, Testing – 1, 2, 3



So you finished nursing school and you thought your test taking days were over, huh? Think again! When you choose a travel assignment, you must pass a medications test and, in many instances, a competency test in your area of practice. Facilities may also require the nurse to take another test upon arrival for orientation—frequently it is the Performance Based Development System or PBDS.

PBDS was developed to identify areas in which a new nurse needed additional education. Hospitals now use it for travelers to determine what the nurse knows and how the nurse would react in certain clinical and interpersonal situations.

So why are we telling you this? Because in most cases, a travel assignment hinges on your passing the PBDS test before you are allowed to work and you only get one shot! So here is what you can expect:

In addition to short interpersonal questions, the test is comprised of eleven (11) scenarios and one (1) sample scenario presented to the nurse in video format.  The scenarios consist of common clinical situations that occur on a hospital unit.  Based on the scenario, the nurse is asked to indicate the actions the nurse should take regarding the patient’s condition.  The actions can include reporting findings to the physician and anticipating a diagnosis and possible orders the physician might give for implementation.  Other actions may relate to ways of dealing with interpersonal or communication issues. Some hospitals may give a shortened version to travelers.

And because we know how important passing this test is…here are some tips to help in taking PBDS.

  • View the sample scenario carefully.
  • Do not take notes, but watch and listen carefully.  Data will be given in written form for reference after the scenario has been viewed.  This is true for all the scenarios.
  • In each scenario, the patient’s condition will change—and not for the better.  Clues to the change will be given verbally and/or visually.  Look and listen carefully.
  • When asked to respond to the videos, state everything you know about the condition and the effect the change in the condition will have on the patient.
  • For every action you state, give a rationale for your actions.  Critical thinking is judged on the actions you take as well as on the reasons you give for taking such actions.
  • If you choose to call the physician, state what you would tell the physician and why.
  • State the orders you would anticipate the physician would give you and why you would expect to get those orders.
  • If medications are involved, name the medication and state the reason you would expect to administer or discontinue it.
  • If fluids are involved, name the fluid and state the reason you would expect to administer it, discontinue it, and/or change the flow rate.
  • If lab tests are involved, name the test and state the reason you would expect the test to be ordered, the expected value of the test, and expected actions to be taken because of the results of the test.
  • For interpersonal situations, state the response you would give as well as the rationale for giving that response.
  • Give a rationale for every action you include in your answers. This is critical.

So once you have passed the test (we knew you can do it!) make sure you get your certificate. Some hospitals will not require you to re-take the test if you can show an “acceptable” score from another institution.

Want More Information? Whether you travel with us now or would like to travel with us in the future, PPR can provide some guidance in taking PBDS exams. Feel free to contact us with any questions, so we can help put you to work!

Have tips to help other travelers on the PBDS test? Comment and share your experience!