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Four Things to Know About the PBDS Test

Taking the PBDS testIf you’ve worked as a travel nurse for a few years, chances are good that you’ve encountered the performance-based development system (PBDS) test or even been told you must take it before starting a new job. More and more facilities are requiring the test, especially for travel nurses.

Is the PBDS test making you nervous? Here are four things to know before you take it:

1. The PBDS test is used to test nurses’ critical thinking skills. Developed by competency expert Dr. Dorothy del Bueno, the PBDS test is used to measure a nurse’s risk and problem-management skills, interpersonal and team-building skills, and technical abilities.

2. The PBDS test is entirely computer based and takes several hours to complete. Unlike other exams, such as the NCLEX, the PBDS does not offer multiple-choice answers. Instead, nurses watch short video clips depicting various medical situations and then determine the main problem,  proper medical diagnosis and nursing interventions to be done within an allotted time limit. The test also determines whether nurses can prioritize tasks and decide what should be done urgently or what is a lower priority.

The test generally takes about five hours to complete, and the results — different levels of either “unacceptable” to “acceptable” — and a summary and action plan for the nurse to review with a supervisor are sent to the facility.

3. There are many resources to help you study for the PBDS test. Though it can be difficult to prepare for a five-hour test, especially if you work full time, many sites offer printable study guides, flash cards, videos and even books you can purchase to help you study. If you’re worried about what to expect, visit a nursing forum and seek out other nurses who’ve taken the exam. They’ll be glad to share their experiences and tips and may even have study suggestions as well.

4. Physically preparing for the PBDS test can help you achieve an acceptable score. As with other exams, it’s important to take care of yourself so you do your best. Make sure to get plenty of rest the night before, eat a healthy dinner and breakfast, and give yourself lots of time to get ready and travel to the facility so you’re not stressed and running late. If you experience test anxiety, try taking deep breaths in the restroom or even an empty lobby before going in to begin your test. You’ll find that you’re able to think more clearly when you’ve rested and eaten well and your mind is sharp.

Have you taken the PBDS test? Share your tips for travel nurses taking it in the comments!


About the author


Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a healthcare writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.


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