Progressive Care Certification (PCCN) Study Resources

PCCN Test Plan

One of the most important study tools is the PCCN Test Plan, also known as an exam blueprint, found in the PCCN Exam Handbook, available at www.certcorp.org > Documents and Handbooks (left side of page). As a detailed content outline of the topics on the exam, the PCCN Test Plan will help guide your studies. 

The topical areas of the Test Plan are weighted, so the best return for your study time is to concentrate on the most heavily weighted areas, such as Cardiovascular, Pulmonary and Professional Caring and Ethical Practice. Although the other clinical judgment areas are also important, the number of questions related to these topics is relatively small.

Make sure you can identify signs and symptoms of the patient problems, anticipated lab values for various problems, pharmacology-anticipated drugs, anticipated procedures and nursing interventions for each of the topics on the Test Plan. Like the CCRN exam, the PCCN exam includes a core of items dealing with the Professional Caring and Ethical Practice components of the AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care. A number of resources related to the Synergy Model are available on the AACN website at www.certcorp.org.

Online Self-Assessment

An online PCCN Self-Assessment Exam (SAE) is also available to give you practice with items developed by the PCCN item writers, as well as the rationale for each correct and incorrect answer. The items on the PCCN SAE are in the same proportion as on the PCCN exam. Once you "finish" the practice exam, you will receive a score report similar to the one you'll receive after taking the real exam.

Your SAE score report will help you determine the content areas in which you need further study. You have access to the PCCN SAE for 90 days, during which time you may go in and out at your convenience and use it for study prior to answering each question.

Once you select an answer it cannot be changed, but you can immediately review whether it was the correct selection and view the rationales for each potential response. The fee to take the 50-item online PCCN SAE practice exam is $45.

Live PCCN Review Courses being offered around the U.S. are listed on the AACN website. Refer to the list of upcoming and prior PCCN review courses by state for more information. 

PCCN Exam Review Products

PCCN Certification Review Online

AACN's PCCN Certification Review Online, presented by Carol Rauen, is recommended for nurses with at least one year of progressive care experience. The course will benefit those who desire a clinical update and review of the latest best practices.

It also is intended for those seeking a final review before taking the PCCN certification exam. Recorded and edited from a live webinar, the course offers 13.5 contact hours of continuing nursing education credit and reflects the most current PCCN certification exam test plan.

AACN members receive free CNE credit. Product #PCCNOD - $159 (member), $179 (nonmember)

PCCN Adult Review Course on Audio CD

This comprehensive review program was produced from the 2009 NTI preconference and is based on the PCCN Test Plan. Experts present an overview of cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, hematology/immunology, multisystem, neurologic, pulmonary and renal topics, as well as share test-taking strategies. Synergy Model content is included.

An excellent review course for progressive care nurses preparing for the PCCN exam. Includes 12 CDs, and one CD that has the syllabus and slide handout files. 

Available by calling (800) 899-2226 and requesting product #300901 - $109 (member), $135 (nonmember) — plus shipping and handling. Or, purchase online at AACN's Online Bookstore.

PCCN Adult Review Course on DVD

This comprehensive review program was produced from the 2009 NTI preconference and is based on the PCCN Test Plan. Experts present an overview of cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, hematology/immunology, multisystem, neurologic, pulmonary and renal topics, as well as share test-taking strategies. Synergy Model content is included. 

An excellent review course for progressive care nurses preparing for the PCCN exam. Includes 6 DVDs and 1 CD with syllabus and slide handout files. 

Available by calling (800) 899-2226 and requesting product #300900 - $200 (member), $275 (nonmember) — plus shipping and handling. Or, purchase online at AACN's Online Bookstore.

PCCN Adult Review Course on CD-ROM

This comprehensive review program on CD-ROM was produced from the 2009 NTI preconference and is based on the PCCN Test Plan. Experts present an overview of cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, hematology/immunology, multisystem, neurologic, pulmonary and renal topics.

An excellent review course for progressive care nurses preparing for the PCCN exam. Includes 5 CD-ROMs and 1 CD with the syllabus and slide handout files. 

Available by calling (800) 899-2226 and requesting product #300902 - $179 (member), $199 (nonmember) — plus shipping and handling. Or, purchase online at AACN's Online Bookstore.

CCRN Study Resources may also be helpful, as some of the knowledge, skills and abilities of PCCNs and CCRNs overlap. One day a patient may be in the ICU and the next in progressive care.

Many successful PCCNs have used some of the CCRN review materials, but keep in mind that the progression of the patient's status is different. Also, the PCCN exam is weighted more heavily in the cardiovascular area than the CCRN exam, and hemodynamic monitoring and ventilator management are not included on the PCCN Test Plan.

Another source of information in the PCCN Exam Handbook is the PCCN Study Bibliography, a list of books used by the PCCN Item Writers to validate the correct answers to the questions on the PCCN exam. 

If you find during your in-depth study of the PCCN Test Plan that you need more information on lab values or pharmacology related to a specific condition, you may want to refer to one of the resources listed in the Study Bibliography. This reference list may be especially useful when working with a study group where you can pool your resources.

The Progressive Care/Telemetry area under Marketplace on the AACN website contains many pages of AACN products determined to have relevance for progressive care nurses. Based on your assessment of what you need to study using the PCCN Test Plan and the PCCN SAE, you may find products to help meet your specific learning needs.

The PCCN exam is oriented more to application and analysis than recall, so you may be asked to apply the information given to the patient situation. For example, you may be provided with patient symptoms, lab values, etc., and asked, "What would you anticipate?" or "What would you do?" Any practice in which you apply information to patient situations will be helpful, such as attending or presenting patient case studies or joining patient rounds related to the patient problems found on the PCCN Test Plan.

AACN and AACN Certification Corporation continue to work on creating resources for study and development in progressive care nursing. Thank you for your interest in becoming certified as a PCCN in nursing care of acutely ill adult patients.

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