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Hyperbaric certification exam review.

After the completion of formal training and 1,000 hours of experience in the hyperbaric field, you're eligible to obtain your hyperbaric credential. This was the case with some of my staff, so I decided to look for available review material to help them pass the credentialing exam.


The Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT) and Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (CRHN) certification exams are administered by the National Board for Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology. The exams are given at various locations throughout the year. Fortunately I was able to find a very helpful program of exam preparation written by Deborah A. Sheffield, MSN, APRN, CHT, CHRN, and Robert B. Sheffield, BA, CHT from International ATMO in San Antonio, Texas. Their program consists of a workbook called the "CHT and CHRN Certification Exam Review Course", which has a companion four DVD set, and a "CHT and CHRN Certification Exam Practice book."

The review course (workbook and DVD set) costs $ 140. The Exam Practice Book carries an additional cost, but I suggest purchasing both books (with DVD included) for a total discounted package price of $162. Both can be purchased through the International ATMO web site at or through the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society web site

After studying the review course workbook myself, I used the question and answer practice book to test myself. The practice book presents more than 450 sample test questions. Many of the answers are accompanied by explanations and helpful insights. The review book definitely helped me past the self-test.

The first section of the workbook focuses on basic test-taking skills and strategies, which are very beneficial if you have trouble taking written exams. The authors address such issues as how to manage your time during the exam and how to manage stress before and during the exam. They also provide some background information about the exam itself.

For example the certification exam is composed of 120 multiple choice or true/false questions. There is no fill in the blank or essay questions, and you have two hours to complete the exam. The passing score for the exam is 70 percent (84 correct answers) and a score of 90 percent will get you a "with distinction" rating on your certificate.

As with any test of this type, it is important to read the questions very carefully because wording can make all the difference in getting the correct answer. As is pointed out in the book, humans read by "pattern recognition." This is a process where your eyes scan the words just enough to recognize a common pattern and then the brain registers what it "thinks" was written. Read each question slowly and carefully and make sure you recognize words that may trip you up like; not, never, except. Also never change your first answer unless you really are sure it is wrong.

The review workbook is very well-organized, and some of the chapter topics are the history of oxygen and hyperbaric, gas pressures and the gas laws, decompression theory and use of the U.S. Navy dive tables, pathophysiology of pressure injuries, therapeutics and treatment profiles for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, indications, equipment and safety, non-invasive vascular testing and transcutaneous oximetry. All of the information in this book is important to know, but I recommend spending extra time reviewing equations related to the gas laws and understanding how to use the U.S. Navy dive tables. The dive tables, typically used by scuba divers, can be a little intimidating at first, but it is important to be able to calculate decompression and know decompression times using these tables.

The practice book is beneficial in understanding how to actually figure out this information, and the DVD section on the dive tables is outstanding. It was the best step-by-step explanation for understanding this information I have ever seen, and that includes in the dive literature. I like the PowerPoint slides format of the DVD, which has a little picture of the presenter in the bottom corner.

The history section of the workbook deserves a little extra focus for the sake of memorization. Knowing who the father of modern hyperbaric medicine is (Boerema) versus the father of pressure physiology (Bert) may not mean much clinically, but if you want to pass the exam, it's worthwhile.

The trancutaneous oximetry section was very informative, and I admit I learned a few new things reviewing this section. In the equipment and safety section, you will learn valuable differences between monoplace and multiplace chamber operations, and their components. When I originally took my CHT exam I did poorly with multiplace chamber questions because I was only exposed to monoplace chamber operations.

Prepare yourself to know about the operations, system components and safety regulations for both types of chambers. In the case of multiplace chambers you will need to know information such as; minimum ventilation exchange rate and maximum oxygen percentage allowable inside the chamber, use of a BIBS device, overboard dump and vacuum relief device. The good news is that all of that information and more is covered in this course.

The International ATMO Web site above also has a book available by Jolie Bookspan, PhD, titled "Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Review for Physicians." I have not reviewed this but it may also be helpful.

In summary, I recommend picking up a copy of this package because it can serve as an invaluable tool in preparation for the hyperbaric certification exams. The extra preparation provided by using these tools will probably reduce your stress level as well, which can have a very positive effect on your test grade.

by Kenneth Capek RRT, CHT, MPA

Ken Capek, RRT, CHT, MPA is Director of Respiratory Care and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at Englewood Medical Center in Englewood, NJ. He can be reached at
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Author:Capek, Kenneth
Publication:FOCUS: Journal for Respiratory Care & Sleep Medicine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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