PBDS and Nurse Skill Testing


Posted to Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing News

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If you want to discuss a nursing topic that everyone has an opinion about, just bring up Dr. Dorothy del Bueno’s PBDS testing program among a group of travel nurses or nurse managers.

The testing was designed to be used as a tool to help identify nurses’ weak areas so that they might receive additional training in those areas. The end goal of the testing would be a better equipped nursing staff at a reduced cost to the facility in terms of both time and money. However, some people view the test as a tool to keep licensed nurses from gainful employment even after they have passed all of the state licensing requirements to practice nursing.

According to the National Council for State Boards of Nursing website, “NCSBN Member Board jurisdictions require a candidate for licensure to pass an examination that measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licensed, entry-level nurse.” But the nurses being subjected to the testing are not always entry-level, but seasoned RN’s who oftentimes have many years of practice and travel nursing experience. In this economy, nothing can strike more fear into one’s heart than the prospect of losing a good employment opportunity because of superfluous testing.

In nursing forums and on nursing blogs, travel nurses have reported having very different experiences with the testing. Some have reported the testing was fairly basic, while others say that it was silly and included unrealistic scenarios. Others complained more generally about being “tested to death”.

Either way, easy or difficult, travel nurses have reported becoming anxious in response to the idea that the testing might be a road block to landing a job. Whether it stems from the litigious nature of society, or the focus on better quality of care, skill testing is not likely to go away. If anything, testing seems to have become more prevalent in workplaces over the last decade.

The PBDS tests three skill areas: interpersonal skills which relate to customer relations, team building, and conflict resolution. These critical thinking skills encompass nursing processes used on medical and surgical floors, in critical care wards, OB and the ICU, along with other technical elements which may include creating and following a variety of care plans, based upon the diagnosis.

PBDS testing, of course, was not created to prevent nurses from working, but to be used as a tool, to keep nurses safe and to help provide the most positive patient outcomes. In response to skill testing, travel nursing companies and other staffing agencies have begun to provide study guides and additional test prep information to their nurses, both to reduce testing anxiety and to present the most qualified candidates to employers.