nurses examDo you feel sick at hearing the words “Performance Based Development System” or PBDS? If you’re a travel nurse, you shouldn’t be. Here are 5 steps that can help you ace this assessment exam.

  1. Know the Beast!

    The PBDS is a “customized competency assessment process that evaluates hospital personnel's ability to do the job.” It was developed by Dr. Dorothy del Bueno and Performance Management Services, Inc. and is designed to assess the abilities of healthcare professionals.

  2. Review what you take for granted.

    The PBDS uses video vignettes that pertain to patient care situations you may be presented with during your shift. You will need to diagnose, select a treatment, and give a rationale for each treatment given.

    Since you know how to treat your patient in real life, think of it like you’re just asked to do it on paper or in front of a computer monitor. Mentally “walk” into your patient’s room and assess your patient. “See” what’s going on. “Listen” to what you patient is telling you. Walk in, wash your hands, introduce yourself – write step by step instructions as if you were explaining to another nurse exactly what you do from one minute to the next.

  3. Review online.

    This being the age of the Internet, a myriad of information on anything imaginable is available. And the PBDS is no different. Many travel nursing agencies have a section devoted to the PBDS. Your recruiter may have information regarding the test, and suggest sites to search. 

  4. Do not take the test requirement personally.

    According to an article by Carol Tuttas on the Healthcare Traveler Magazine website, there are over 800 hospitals nationwide using the PBDS system. It assesses regular and temporary staff based on three skill sets. These are critical thinking, inter-personnel relations, and technical skills. Hospitals only use this assessment to measure your ability to demonstrate the skills above and not to discriminate against other nurses.

  5. Rest, relax and be yourself!

    How many times have you heard “get a good night’s rest and eat a healthy breakfast” before any big event? This advice holds true with the PBDS. If you can, take the night before the test completely off. Don’t study or review. Enjoy the evening and go to bed at a reasonable time, so you can wake up refreshed and ready to go.

    The test can take up to 4+ hours depending on where you are, which is why you need to eat a good, balanced breakfast. Breaks may or may not be provided, so plan accordingly and consume proteins instead of sugar. Don’t go crazy with the coffee to avoid a “crash” in the middle of testing. Most importantly, be the great nurse you are! Be specific in your answers and take care of your “patient.” You’ll be fine, especially if you have some experience as a travel nurse. Once you finish it, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about!


Performance Management Services, Inc. (2009). The Facts Don't Lie. Retrieved from

Tuttas, Carol. (2008). The Performance Based Development System assessment tool affects travel nurses. Healthcare Traveler, 9(15). Retrieved from