I know PBDS very well - but not the NICU version...but it is all basically the same. PBDS (Performance Based Development System) is an assessment of your skills and knowledge. It involves problem identification/recognition and problem management; interpersonal skills assessment; there might be some abnormal pictures that you have to look at and discuss what is going on and how you would manage; prioritization skills; and EKG interpretation.
Institutions will use PBDS as a development tool for their own employees - those that are FT, PT, PRN...but they use it as a "weed-out" tool for agency. The reason being, if you are paying "out-the-wazoo" for an agency nurse, then that nurse should come as a "full-package" without any significant development/training needs. If that nurse needs that level of training, then the institution is not willing to pay "agency price" and then spend their own money on top of that doing additional training.
With problem recognition and management, you are given a short video vignette w/ s/s and you are to identify the problem, whether or not you would notify the physician, what orders you would expect, what nursing actions you could take (those things that nurses can do without a physician order - I/O, daily weight, etc.) It is very writing or typing intensive depending on whether or not you get the written or computer version. I always told my students to pretend you are trying to describe the interventions to a lay-person, not a nurse. In other words, don't say, "I would assess." You need to state EXACTLY what you would assess - B/P, HR, RR, T, skin color, lung sounds, etc.
Interpersonal skills involves identifying the underlying issue. IE: If a physician is upset and ranting about the help, the underlying issue is probably he ordered something that wasn't done - don't reply to the "overt" message but reply to the "underlying" issue.
Prioritization skills are just that. You will get a list of stuff and you determine the urgency of that particular problem.
EKG interpretation - just that. If you are NALS/PALS certified, you will need to state the appropriate interventions as well.
What I have noticed is that more experienced nurses don't put enough information down and less experienced nurses sometimes do better but their critical thinking skills are not well developed.
In my opinion, it is an EXCELLENT tool - VERY ENLIGHTENING!! I used to do feedback for nurses that took it at my facility. I have taken it as well - I have been a critical care nurse for about 20 years - I did fine on it. It is a VERY GRUELING DAY! So come prepared - snacks, stuff to drink - and prepared to be sitting and writing/typing for several hours (6-8).
Best of luck.