There are a number of very specific specializations that nurses choose to pursue once they have their LPN license. One of these additional qualifications that could result in a number of benefits for you is earning pharmacology certification. With pharmacology certification you will be in line for a number of excellent opportunities in terms of employment. A hardworking and dedicated student will not take long in earning this qualification and expanding their career horizons.
Why Should I Get Pharmacology Certification?
There are a number of excellent reasons why you should pursue pharmacology certification, some of which have been touched on already:
- You will be able to earn more money as a nurse: every additional qualification that you strive towards as a nurse will mean that you stand a higher chance of being employed in more highly paid positions.
- You will be more marketable: potential employers look for nurses who show a desire to pursue their education and do more than just the bare minimum in pursuit of career excellence. In addition it will mean that you can get a job with employers specifically looking for nurses that have this certification.
It is also often very easy to earn your pharmacology certificating, especially as a number of employers are more than willing to sponsor the certification in exchange for which you, as the nurse in the picture will agree to work for your employer for a set period of time.
One of the best organizations through which to get your pharmacology certification is NAPNES as this shows that your qualification is of good quality and increases your chances of employment.
Common Job Roles And Duties
There are a number of tasks that a nurse with pharmacology certification is expected to fulfill. These include attending to individuals who are sick, injured, or disabled, noting vital signs, assisting the patient with personal grooming and ambulatory problems, administering injections and enemas, dressing wounds, giving massages and alcohol rubs, monitoring patients for adverse reactions to medications or treatments and reporting on them if there are any, monitoring catheters, and recording food and fluid intake and output. Consequently it can be seen that nurses in this position tend to perform many of the same tasks as other nurses, with the addition of specific, pharmacological roles included. The job role is an extremely important one as it ensures that patients are receiving the appropriate level of care that they need in order to recover as efficiently as possible. Attention to detail is a very important aspect of the job as it is one of the primary roles of the pharmacology nurse to ensure that the patient is not reacting badly to any medication and to put a stop to that medication if an adverse reaction is observed. If you earn certification in this area of nursing you will be allowed to use the title or signature LPN, NCP.
One of the best organizations through which to receive pharmacology certification is NAPNES. This stands for the National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Services. In the NAPNES training program you will cover:
- Pharmacological and medical administration principles
- How Pharmacological and medical administration principles apply in the LPN profession
- Drug classifications
- Procedures for medical administration
- Medication assessment
- Dosage calculations
This training also counts towards your continuing education credits, counting as 45 hours in total. Belonging to NAPNES is not a prerequisite for earning pharmacology certification through this body (although there are many benefits to belonging to NAPNES, making it a viable option for most nurses to consider). NAPNES members will, however, be given a substantial discount on the study materials that are needed in order to pass the certification examination. In order to become a member with NAPNES there are a number of separate steps that you will need to follow and the entire process is distinct form the process of applying for pharmacology certification through the association. As with all associations and certification examinations there are a number of eligibility requirements that you have to meet.
Certification through NAPNES is one of the best choices you could make as it is a well known and nationally recognized certification body for this line of work. In fact many employers require that you have the NAPNES certification over other options as it represents a guarantee that you will be skilled in your role as a pharmacology nurse. It effectively allows you to:
- Build skills
- Measure your knowledge
- Demonstrate your employability
The application form for certification can be found here. To apply you will need to begin by downloading the application package, make the necessary online payments for whichever certification or recertification option you are interested in pursuing, complete the application form, provide a copy of your license to be an LPN (Pharmacology, Long- Term Care, and I.V. Therapy Certifications require an LPN or LVN license in good standing), email or fax the necessary documentation to NAPNES, await your authorization letter, and then set a date to sit the exam. Once you have sat the examination and passed it you will need to print out the affidavit, have it notarized after you have filled it in, and send it to NAPNES. You will receive your certification in a few days following this.
There are a number of eligibility requirements that you will need to meet in order to earn pharmacology certification. To begin with you must have a current and unencumbered LPN/LVN license in the United States or in a U.S. territory. Alternatively you could simply meet the educational requirements for taking the NCLEX-LP examination (meaning that you do not have your LPN license yet, but that you are eligible to receive one soon). A signature from the program director will be required on your application for certification. In addition to this you will also need to, obviously, receive a passing grade on the NAPNES Pharmacology Certification Examination, a test that NAPNES provides study materials for. All certifications will require 24 contact hours of continuing education during the certification period to be eligible for re-certification. Once you receive certification you will be eligible to work as a pharmacology nurse for 3 years, at which point you will need to pursue recertification. 24 hours of continuing education over a period of three years is very little, and you may want to consider doing more than what is required in order to further boost your credentials and your confidence in your job.
The coursework that you will be required to complete will consist of a number of topics, not least of which is dosage calculations of medications and intravenous fluid rates. In addition to this you will also be required to become well versed in the topics of medication assessment and procedures for administration, drug classifications and their effect on various body systems, and specific drugs in each classification that are emphasized according to expected effects, side effects, allergic and adverse effects. Because you will be closely involved in the administration of medication, you will also be provided with comprehensive information on the safety precautions, guidelines, and documentation. Last but not least you will study the human nervous system and the effects certain drugs have on the body and the routes of drug administration and variables that influence drug action. Based on this it becomes clear that there are two components of the course you will complete that are of paramount importance:
- Medical math
- Safety precautions
Safety precautions can be learned, but medical math will be easier if you already have a natural affinity for numbers as well as for making accurate calculations.
There are a number of costs that are involved in obtaining pharmacology certification, as you will most probably not be surprised to hear. The main costs that are involved in the process are:
- $100 fee that is payable to NAPNES in order to register as a pharmacology nurse and which must be included with your application for certification
- $60 must be paid to Castle Worldwide when you log on to their system in order to write the examination
- An additional $50 must be paid to Castle Worldwide for every additional attempt that you make at the test should you fail to pass the first time round
- NAPNES members pay $50 in order to obtain re-certification every three years
- Non-NAPNES members pay $100 in order to gain re-certification every three years (meaning that it is cheaper to re-certify if you are a member)
- $10 will be needed if you need to change your name along with a certificate of marriage or divorce
- Additional costs may be incurred if you buy additional study materials, if you do not take your test within 60 days of applying for certification, or if you apply late for the renewal of your license
Content Of Exam
The work that you will be assessed on in the examination will consist of many topics that you will have covered in basic LPN training. In addition you could complete a training program specifically aimed at preparing you for pharmacology certification and NAPNES provides optional study materials for you to use as preparation. You can take the exam if:
- You have passed a training course, or
- If you have prior training or work experience
You will receive login details from NAPNES which will expire within 60 days after your application. This means that you will need to login within 60 days to take the exam, so make sure that you are properly prepared when you apply for it.
You will need to answer 150 multiple choice questions to pass the exam. The exam is offered online and the questions appear one at a time on the screen. You cannot print these questions, and any attempt to do will result in immediate failure. You should also note that when the 2 hour time limit is reached, your test will be submitted for grading regardless of whether or not you have finished. The exam can be completed form anywhere.
Passing The Exam
It is your responsibility to ensure that you take the exam in a quiet location where you are unlikely to be disturbed by anyone or anything. This is something that you may have to think about or plan in advance. The exam can be taken from anywhere with an internet connection. If you can get your hands on official pharmacology certification exam study review guides you will find that you will be better prepared for taking the test. These guides not only prepare you for the content of the test but also tend to give you a fairly good idea of what the layout of the test will be and help you decide how long you can afford to spend on each multiple choice question. This will mean that the test will not present you with any surprises and you will be able to pace yourself well throughout the examination. Although different people study differently, it is interesting to note that many students find it easier to pass the certification examination after studying in a group than on their own. In addition attending a program or using the materials provided by NAPNES also tend to increase pass rates in students taking the exam.
Although this is not a qualification that suits everyone, pharmacology certification can make a substantial difference to your career and may result in a number of excellent career advancements and opportunities. Becoming a nurse with pharmacology certification will allow you to broaden your employment options as well as earn more respect in the workplace and within the nursing profession in general. Any further education that you pursue as a nurse will result in you being more marketable to potential employers, thereby making it a worthwhile goal to pursue. It also serves to cement your position in the healthcare industry, one of the most stable industries around.