As promised, here is my comparison of the Utica testing site (St. Lukes) and
Albany (Albany Medical Center). I tested in Utica in February of 2013 and
Albany in April of 2013.
Travel considerations: Utica does not have an airport. The nearest you can fly
into is Syracuse, so you will have about an hour drive if you fly in to
Syracuse. There are toll booths along the way, so be aware of that as well.
Lodging Considerations: The recommended hotel in Albany is literally attached
to the hospital via walkway. You also have a wider choice in food options and
more amenities there. This hotel was $20 more expensive per night than the
recommended Utica hotel, but they have a complimentary shuttle which will save
you mucho mula on taxis. The recommended Utica hotel was $99/night excelsior
rate and the Albany hotel was $119/ night excelsior rate. The Taxi rate from
Albany hotel to the recommended hotel was $25.
There are hardly any hotels in Utica and most have very, very poor reviews. You
have more lodging options in Albany but I highly recommend the recommended
hotel; it is worth the money if you can come up with it. As of February 2013,
the recommended Utica hotel was undergoing extensive renovations, did not offer
shuttle service, and did not have an elevator.
Also the Albany recommended hotel offers free extended check out until 2pm and
half room rate will allow you to stay until 6pm so that really comes in handy on
Differences in the CPNE process: Please note that these differences by be
related to the CA preference and NOT site.
Lab Stations: In Utica, you were allowed to open all the supplies at the lab
stations. Many students even got a chance to practice right before lab started.
In Albany, the CA asked us not to open supplies. After student protest, she
allowed one pair of large gloves to be opened at the wound station and one
syringe with needle and one insulin syringe to be opened at the SubQ/IM station.
Friday at Utica seemed more organized than at Albany. We got out pretty early
on Friday night at Utica, but It was after 8pm when I got back to my hotel in
PCS process: In Utica, if you failed a PCS, you got to attempt your next PCS as
soon as a CE became available. Almost everyone failed their first PCS so lots
of CAs were available and we were permitted to jump right in to the next PCS.
In Albany, they stick to the schedule and you are sent back to the hotel until
your next PCS is set to begin (a big reason I recommend coming up with the money
for the recommended hotel). The CA and CEs at both sites seemed relatively fair
and they do really want you to pass.
Also, you WILL get a peds patient in Albany; it is rare to do so in Utica.
Again, keep in mind the format may change based on CA and not on site; I get the
feeling that is the case. Equipment and lab supplies also varied based on site.
Hope it helps and good luck!