The Long Overdue Ending
I purchased the Kaplan Online Complete package for far too much money. The online course was soooo boring, but had some nice ideas and flowcharts and such. The online question bank was the best investment in the package, however. Answering several hundred questions really got my brain into NCLEX mode. I highly recommend the Qbank, but can take or leave the rest of the course.
My classmates went to the Hurst Review. I flipped through their book and listened to their stories after the course was over. Apparently it was hilarious and awesome and useful because the crazy jokes and anecdotes caused all the review points to stick well in your mind. The book was much simpler and digestible than my own Kaplan book, but it lacked the review questions I found so useful. So I recommend the Hurst Review as well, though only if you're able to attend a live class.
On the whole, I recommend you do any review course, period. They help refresh your brain, and statistically those candidates do better. Which kind you pick really depends on your style.
I arrived early to the small testing facility. I opened the door to find a gentlemen seated attentively and upright behind a desk. He stared at me as I entered and sat. After I'd arranged myself in the chair, he asked if he could help me. Yes, I explained, I'm taking NCLEX.
"Your authorization to test, please. Thank you. Please take this paper and read it. Let me know when you have finished." He was a very formal guy, whose tone was as crisp as his pristinely ironed shirt. I sat and read the paper. When I came back I had to give him my ID, sign my name, let him scan my finger 5 times, get my photo taken, sign my name again, lock up my things, on and on and on. Finally he gathered my papers, scanned my finger one last time, and walked with me two steps into the hallway.
There was a woman seated in the monitoring station, watching the test takers. Though calling it a monitoring station is a kind of visual understatement. It might be better described as a space pod, since it's sphere of glass looked down upon so many screens I felt certain that touching one of them would surely cause the entire thing to blast off.
She took my ID as well, scanned my fingerprint, activated my test in the computer, and escorted me inside to my terminal. I noted that I was seated at computer #7, and hoped it was a lucky omen.
There were a tiny pair of earplugs before the monitor that I didn't use. I started clicking at the tutorial pretest questions and reading yet more rules and warnings. When the test finally began, it looked exactly like the review books describe them. I didn't feel nervous at that time. I felt like I had a really good chance.
Every time I answered a question and clicked "Next", I checked the counter at the corner of the screen. I've heard people say that they were never more terrified than when the cutoff screen popped up and ended the test. I was actually the opposite. I was terrified when I hit Next on question 75, because if it didn't cut off then that would mean that I still hadn't passed. At least I'd know it was over if it cut off at 75. If I had to keep answering questions after that, I would have been terrified.
Thankfully, it did cut off at 75. They scanned my fingerprint again when I left. As I understand it, they scan your fingerprint if you so much as get up to go pee. I was glad to be out of there.
I didn't check exactly 48 hours later. I spent the day working, then spent the evening at a friend's house soothing his grief over his recent breakup. So when I finally got around to checking the site in the middle of the night, I was somewhat disgruntled when I was greeted with only a few lines of text saying my name, number, and the word PASS.
I blinked heavily. Where were the trumpets??? At the very least couldn't they have included an animated gif? Or perhaps the word "Congratulations"? Make no mistake, I was thrilled. But it seemed almost an anticlimax to these years of struggling and studying. I printed out a screenshot to keep with my other school momentos. And then I went to bed, and didn't dream at all.
I'm now a full time RN in a Cardiac Care Unit, and almost finished with orientation. And I have to say, I love it. I absolutely love it. While I found my experiences as a nurse tech extremely beneficial while in college, I cannot tell you how physically demanding it could be on me sometimes. This job is so much better, and I don't feel like a zombie all the time from having to balance work and school.
CCU is all about bypass patients and other thoracic surgeries, though we get other intensive care patients from time to time. I've been learning so much every day, and feel like I'm almost ready to do the job all by myself. I hope to work back here for a year or more, then perhaps for a while in the ER too before I eventually go back to grad school. What do I want to be? Probably an NP, though I'm not sure yet! I have lots of time to think.
This is my last entry, and I will not be posting in this blog anymore. I have to concentrate on my career and starting my new life. I considered writing another blog for a while called "I Am No Longer a Nursing Student"... but realized how silly that statement is. I will always be a student. I feel like I'm growing and learning all the time.
Studying nursing has been good for me in so many ways. Certain parts of my personality were already predisposed to this kind of work, but other parts of me were not at all suited to the task. For example, when I began clinicals I was a very shy person. That might not have come out in my posts so much, but I had a hard time talking to new people. As little as 6 months ago I still had a phobia about calling people on the phone. But by working as a tech and working with my classmates, I've grown past those anxieties and gained a measure of self-confidence. The changes were subtle and slow, but when I look back, I'm amazed at how far I've come.
I think that finding a path in life that both complements and challenges you is precious. I think that, in this culture full of disillusionment, I was lucky that college "worked" for me. It actually helped me in the classical sense by shaping my identity and strengthening my character. Of course, it was tedious and taxing. And in the years before I transferred and changed majors, it was downright depressing. But here I am now, with a degree on my wall and initials after my name. After all of it... after everything... I made it.
You can make it too. Hang in there. <3
Thanks for reading.