“How do I prepare to take the CBN exam?” is a question that is frequently asked. Every individual is different, but here are some guidelines to help you develop a study plan. The Certified Bariatric Nursing exam is based on a comprehensive “blueprint”, developed from surveying practicing bariatric surgery nurses. This study determined that the examination is valid whether you work in the operating room caring for bariatric patients or whether you work in an outpatient setting, and many areas in between. Specifically, four areas or domains of knowledge were determined, and each test contains the same number of questions within each domain.

Domain Percentage Number of Items
Clinical Management: Preoperative (Pre-hospital) 18% 27 test items
Clinical Management: Perioperative (Hospital) 24% 36 test items
Clinical Management: Follow-up (Post-hospital) 25% 38 test items
Multidisciplinary Team Collaboration 15% 22 test items
Outreach 6% 9 test items
Program Quality 12% 18 test items
TOTAL 100% 150 test items

The exam covers all phases of care of bariatric surgery patients, and the first step is to assess your own background and experience in this field.

You can do this by reviewing the Content Outline section of the CBN Handbook and doing a self assessment. Jot down any tasks and knowledge statements that you are not familiar with. Some tasks may be related to specific procedures that your center does not perform. Other tasks may require you to broaden your knowledge base to include areas on the continuum of care that you are less familiar with.

Once you have completed your assessment, you need to find learning experiences to meet your needs. Resources that are provided by ASMBS include a live CBN Review Course presented during the ASMBS Annual Meeting at Obesity Week in the fall of each year, along with a second course at ASMBS Weekend (also called Obesity Week-End and the Spring Educational Event). You can register for this course while registering for the conferences, or you can watch the course online at your convenience.

When looking for study resources, such as books, current bariatric surgical texts are useful to help cover areas of learning needs, as well as journals and online resources specific to bariatric surgery. Keep in mind that small study reports not incorporated into practice will likely not be adequate. Local, national and regional meeting presentations are also a good way to broaden your knowledge base, as long as they are scientifically based. Additionally, the CBN Candidate Handbook offers a reference list of resources that may be useful in preparing for the exam.

You can also partner with other nurses to study together, and particularly if you work in different aspects of bariatric care, sharing your knowledge with others will help both you and your partners to better prepare.