Nursing Travel

PBDS Study Guide

Check our our top tips from nursing professionals on how to study for the PBDS test.

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PBDS Study Guide

What is the PBDS Test? The Performance Based Development System (PBDS) is designed to assess nursing competency in three areas of skill: critical thinking, interpersonal relations, and technical skills in one of four medical specialties: Medical Surgical, Critical Care, NICU, and OB. While not every hospital requires that traveling nurses pass the test, it is becoming more common, especially with big hospital systems across the United States. At some point, you're likely to run across the PBDS as a requirement for assignment consideration. How is the test administered? Most of the test is presented as video vignettes on a computer. You’re asked how you would handle the situations presented in the video and your answers are evaluated and compared against hospital standards. A proctor oversees the test and there is a time limit. The test is often abbreviated for travelers, typically taking 2-4 hours, or the full test can last up to 7 hours. What would you do if this happened? The test presents you with common clinical scenarios and complications that might arise. Your role is to assess the situation, define the issue, and decide how to deal with it. You'll be asked to explain your rationale and assign a priority for action. A series of four or five questions will be asked about each scenario.

Interpersonal relations skills are assessed by complicating medical situations with scenarios that require ethical or personal decisions. Do I have to take the PBDS test? No, but the growing use of the test means that not taking it will eventually limit your options. Tips: Don't leave out any steps. If your assessment of a situation includes a common procedure, don't start in the middle because the beginning is usually accomplished before this point. Start with the very first step in the procedure and include patient communication and reassurance. Be very detailed.

Some hospitals elect to score the tests in-house instead of using PBDS Direct, the national assessment service. These results are unlikely to be accepted by your next assignment, and any hospital may choose to insist on reassessment at any time before hiring.

There are no trick questions. Every situation requires medical care, and every one will have some escalation or patient condition deterioration.

Pay close attention and don’t try to write during the vignettes, or you'll be sure to miss something. Clues are often momentary.

Responses should be prioritized into what you MUST do, what you SHOULD do and what you COULD do to address each situation.

It's a tough test, but you know the answers. Be confident, answer quickly, and don't skip any steps, including how you'd handle that obnoxious doctor and still deal with the problem at hand.