Nurse Practitioner board certification: Where to start

Several of my coworkers have recently finished NP programs, and have asked me questions regarding my preparation and choice of national board certification. First off, why certify? All but five states require national board certification. California does not require board certification, however many employers still require the certification. If in the future if I wanted to practice outside of California, I would still need to have the national board certification.  This leads to the next question, which exam should you choose? The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and American Association of Nurse Practitioners  (AANP) both are recognized nationally, however the tests do vary some in their testing matter and cost. The initial cost of both tests is comparable, and both require renewal every 5 years. The AANC certification exam has more content on research and policy. This website does an excellent side-by-side comparison of the two exams. I ended up choosing the AANP exam because research is not my strong suit, and I wanted to avoid those questions. I joined the AANP for the discount on the exam, and have kept my membership active for professional development and resume purposes. This leads to the next question, how do you prepare for the certification exam? This really depends on your study style and time frame for taking the exam. In the past I have always had the discipline to self-study for any exam, however  this time was a bit different. I had a five month old son and was working full-time while preparing for the exam, so my free time to study was limited. I signed up for a 2.5 day intensive review with Fitzgerald, a respected APRN education company. The course was a overload of information in a couple of days, but I thought it was very well taught and very interactive, which was helpful. I also borrowed the Fitzgerald CDs and books, which contained essentially the same information as the course. The CDs were great to review the information while commuting to work, and then I would quiz myself with questions from the book nightly. I took the exam three months after I started studying, and passed in on the first try. I would recommend taking the exam as soon as possible after graduation while the information is still fresh. Here is the link to the Fitzgerald book I found helpful.
Leave any comments or questions about the board certification exam below!

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