Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
July 25, 2011

Accreditation in Public Relations (APR): From Agony to Ecstasy

When I earned my APR designation earlier this year, it marked the end of a yearlong odyssey that encompassed a range of learning opportunities ― and conflicting emotions.

My decision to pursue this rigorous postgraduate certification was not something I entered into blithely. In my role as the director of medical communications at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine, I work extremely long hours. It also had been 24 years since I graduated from college and participated in a formal educational program.

After attending a 10-week APR course that covered the 10 KSAs, and steadfastly reviewing both the study guide and several of the suggested textbooks, I spent several weeks preparing for my Readiness Review™ ― which I did not pass.

Disappointed, but determined to persevere, I obtained assistance from one of my Chapter’s APR mentors to help me prepare for a retake, which resulted in success. That was followed by several months of intense preparation for the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, which I prepped for by reviewing my materials, crafting several hundred study cards and taking a one-hour PRSA webinar on how to prepare for it.

On the day of the Examination, I felt nervous, but fully prepared. So you can imagine my despair when the words “Do Not Pass” popped up on the computer screen. I had missed the mark by only a few points, but my close-but-no-cigar result meant I had to swallow my disappointment and redouble my efforts to pass the Examination.

Over the ensuing four months, I studied religiously, focusing on the KSA areas I struggled with on the Examination. Thankfully, all the hard work paid off. Agony immediately metamorphosed into ecstasy when the word “Pass” appeared on my computer screen.

I was now an APR!

Scott Colton, APR, is the director of medical communications at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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