Monday, November 05, 2007

The Long Overdue Ending

I know I promised to tell you about my NCLEX a couple months ago. I've just been so busy I've hardly had time to write in my regular blog, much less my nursing one! But let us get down to business first. This is what NCLEX was like for me:


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.

The Exam

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.

Final Thoughts

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.


Thanks documenting your NCLEX experience. Every little bit helps for those of us who are preparing to test. Good luck in your new life!


By Blogger NCLEX Countdown: Studying & Staying Sane, at Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 9:13:00 AM PST  

Just wanted to say thanks. i came upon your blog by googling in the words "what to expect as a nursing student" and what a perfect match it was. I'm still in my first semester as a student, and was i terrified. But thanks reading your blog really did help ease some of the tension.
Good luck with ur career
and now....i need to go study

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 5:52:00 PM PST  

hello! i stumbled upon your blog much like other anonymous... i am interested in changing my major to nursing (from public health) and i just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog. Good luck with your job and hope you are well.
Thanks for the wonderful informative writings!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 9:21:00 PM PST  

Gosh, this is the next to the last semester for me. I have Spring 08, then graduation. Then the NCLEX. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

This semester has been the toughtest ever! I've often doubted if I would make it through. I hope I do. Good luck in your career. You have exceptional insight and communication skills. I am an introvert just like you. I am an artist. I was a computer geek for many years. Thank you for sharing. I found your words to be encouraging and uplifting. They have given me hope.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 3:43:00 PM PST  


I have been reading your blog for at least a year. I have never commented, but now since you are finished with school and this page, I just wanted to take this moment to say thank you so much for all your wisdom. I have been reading since i decided to change my life to nursing and am now finishing nursing school in May 08and am terrified. Having read every single word you have written has truly helped me in ways I cannot describe. Thanks and good luck to you in all your endevours.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 1:43:00 PM PST  

I recently stumbled upon your blog and found it at such a good time in my life. Currently I'm in my second semester. I had my second worst day in clinical so far, plus I'm really shy so that hasn't helped matters either. But it was inspiring to read your journey. You seemed like you never had a bad moment and if you did I appreciate the fact you only choosed to share the positives. That helps us struggling nursing students who are already afflicted with the hardships of the field. Thanks again for sharing and good luck in where ever the path leads you!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 12:02:00 AM PST  

Reading your last entry gave me a pinch in the heart. specially after reading the words "hang in there". It gave me hope and inspiration. Right now, im studying Nursing pharmacology. It's so difficult for me. I'm at the verge of giving up then i saw your blog. it's like heaven-sent. Thank You so much.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 1:59:00 PM PST  

i found your post half a year late, but it's all i need to keep me going. thanks.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, March 21, 2008 at 5:07:00 PM PDT  

wanna xchange links? visit me at

By Blogger ira, at Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 7:10:00 AM PDT  

Congratulations! You should be soooo Proud. I will be there one day. Maybe they will change the result notification, but I doubt it. Good Luck.

By Blogger Nurse Nubie, at Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 12:50:00 PM PDT  

Such a pity I only ran into your blog now. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement; I'm a very new nursing student and was going through a dark period where I was questioning my career choice. I really needed to read this post!

Even though you're no longer blogging, I will read your archives :) Hopefully one day you will blog again about your nursing adventures!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 12:31:00 PM PDT  

very nice blog site some how i found you looking for things on our sons birth defect esophageal atresia, i wish you all the best.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 7:03:00 PM PDT  

I came upon your blog by mistake but I loved it, I'm bummed that I didn't find it earlier. Congrats on moving on to the "real world" and out of nursing school :) God Bless

By Blogger JodiF, at Monday, November 24, 2008 at 11:28:00 PM PST  

Ok So i am posting after one year of your original blog entry but i must say it was indeed good read. Though i was little disappointed to read you will not be posting anything here. But at the same time i would admire your decision to focus on work/life. Are you still blogging on other topics somewhere else ? If yes do post the links here.
I am nurse from India wish to appear for NCLEX-RN exam next year. Any advice about material to be used which you would like to suggest ?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 10:33:00 AM PST  

I was in India this past summer for almost 6 weeks. It was amazing. I was able to do some work in a hospital. When are you sitting for the test?

By Blogger JodiF, at Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 9:35:00 PM PST  

Hello there Heather!

It's a shame to say that I've only discovered this blog yours NOW... about a year and a half after your very final post. I have no clue if you're ever going to read this, but like the others who commented, I would also like to thank you. I recently graduated from highschool and I am enrolled in a great nursing program here in Toronto, Canada. Your stories really make me want to become a great nurse one day.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 3:27:00 PM PDT  

Every paragraph was worth reading. I appreciate the way you wrote your article.. Kindly keep on writing. I have bookmarked your site for regular reading.

By Anonymous LPN nursing, at Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 6:20:00 AM PDT  

Keep going with your blogg. Nurses need to know there is someone else out their in their shoes providing a voice. Kudos on your blog. NurseGuardian.

By Blogger Nurse G, at Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 4:58:00 PM PDT  

I am about to start my nursing studies and reading your blog is encouraging. Thank you so much.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 11:14:00 AM PDT  


Given the popularity and prevalence of twitter, I put together a list of 50 different nurses on Twitter that you can follow to potentially get some insight on their medical lives. If you wouldn’t mind, could you share my list with your readers?

Here's the post:

Many thanks!

By Blogger Richard, at Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 1:42:00 PM PDT  

Thank you.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, January 2, 2010 at 1:56:00 PM PST  

hello.. youre blogs really help me a lot. i just finished nursing and still looking for a job. thanks for the insights

By Anonymous nelc, at Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:27:00 PM PST  


This is the assistant editor for which is a medical publication offering hospital news,

information and reviews. We also cover a wide variety of medical topics, some of these articles being relevant

to nursing schools and issues around their prospective students (scholarships, grants, etc). We are in the

process of giving the nursing industry a dedicated section from our site and are currently seeking online

resources which can be offered to our readers of this section. If possible I would like to be

included within your blog roll, offering our information as a resource to your readers and essentially

building a relationship between our sites. Please let me know if this addition can be made, Thanks!

Please email me back with your URL in subject line to take a step ahead and to avoid spam.

Thank you
Mary Miller,

By Blogger Unknown, at Monday, February 8, 2010 at 7:46:00 AM PST  


My name is Richard Hemby and I am administrator of an online education site called – a great resource for those seeking doctorate programs in nursing. Apart from the main feature of this site, we also maintain a blog site that talks about the interesting and always evolving work of nurses. It aims to promote understanding among registered nurses and the direct community it interacts with. It’s a fun-filled place packed with information about this noble profession.

Remember that 25 Random Things About Me fad that went viral on Facebook? Well, we have created our own version, sort of. We recently posted an article entitled 25 Things You May Not Know About What Nurses Know. It’s an interesting read that puts nurses in a new light, like having to juggle the roles of being a CEO, customer service manager, crisis coordinator and medical professional all rolled in one. Intrigued? Here is the link to the article:

We would like to know if you can do us the favor of putting this article on your site. I think that your readers will definitely agree and may even be surprised with the information they can gather from this. Should you have any question, feel free to me email me at

Hope to hear from you soon.


By Blogger Unknown, at Friday, March 5, 2010 at 2:45:00 AM PST  

Hey, Heather.. call me sidd. How can i contact you?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, April 30, 2010 at 5:43:00 PM PDT  

Hey, Heather.. call me sidd. How can i contact you?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, April 30, 2010 at 5:43:00 PM PDT  

I totally agree with you.. learning can be so much more fun. Make the trumpets sound! :) Your blog is a gold mine. I hope some day we find content that is outstanding and just the way you want it. Although i gotta say... it gets you through. Wish you all the best!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, April 30, 2010 at 5:48:00 PM PDT  

Hi Heather,

Richard Hemby here from, I'm contacting you about a nursing web awards we're currently running with the following categories:

* Best Nursing Blog of 2010
* Best New Nursing blog of 2010
* Best/Influential Post of 2009-2010
* Top Nursing Twitterer of 2010
* Most Useful Nursing Website of 2010
* Most Useful Web/Mobile Tool for Nurses of 2010

1st place, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will receive Kiva gift cards for best nursing blog, new nursing blog, and best nursing post. Besides Kiva gift cards, we have some pretty nice web badges for other categories.

We have just started accepting nominations and we would really appreciated (really!) if you could give the awards a plug on your blog so we could make this the biggest and best nursing web awards! Tweet it too if you could!

Here's the awards website:

We're definitely open to feedback (new categories for instance). So please shoot me an email or leave us a comment on the blog.



By Blogger Richard, at Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 5:09:00 AM PDT  

Hi Heather. i'm from Brazil and i'm neither a nursing student nor a pre med. Well, huh, I came upon your blog by googling people's experiences posted on blogs like yours in order to keep my Englsih sharp. I also post some experiences of mine on my own blog. Visit me anytime.

By Blogger HAM, at Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 12:32:00 PM PDT  

Hello there, I know this blog is ages but I want to thank you for keeping it up. I plan to read the entire thing, right now I am in the beginning of the journey you tooked and hope to accomplish everything you did. Thank you!!!!

By Blogger Pa, at Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 2:15:00 AM PST  

Thank you so much for all of this - it was wonderful! I hope to see a follow-up post from you someday :)

By Blogger Pammi, at Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 9:55:00 PM PST  

Congrats! I am new to the blogging world, I am aslo a senior in an accelerated nursing program. 5 months left and i hope to be where you are!

I like your idea about how you will always be a student too! best of luck as a new grad! Enjoy being a nurse, you worked hard for that job!

By Blogger From Student to Nurse, at Friday, March 11, 2011 at 8:54:00 AM PST  

Amazing post. I'm in 3rd semester and you've given me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel after all! I'm so happy for you! And thank you for writing this post :)

By Blogger a, at Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 12:20:00 AM PDT  

Wow, really great blog. I've just finished all of my prereqs for the nursing program and hope to get in this fall..
By the way if anyone is interested I've started a forum for nurses and students in the pacific north west (washington, oregon, idaho etc) hope to see you around..

By Blogger jglover, at Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 9:45:00 PM PDT  

Hey, getting a career in nursing is a great job. I'm travel nurse and I find it to be very fulfilling. Go for it. Don't give up!

By Blogger Amelia, at Monday, February 6, 2012 at 3:54:00 PM PST

Thank you for the visual :D you know I heard they are considering moving to a practical and exam style nclex. Hopefully not in my life time :/

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, February 17, 2012 at 12:17:00 PM PST  

WOW, you have inspired me to continue my dream of becoming an RN! Thank you!

By Blogger Day - NyLA Love, at Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 11:40:00 AM PDT  

Your blog is very motivational for me :) there were times that I would wonder if nursing is really for me but now I realize that YES it is! I am very happy for you that your hard work paid off! I hope I will be able to experience these accomplishments as well :) good luck and keep moving forward!

By Blogger Journeys of a Nursing Student, at Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 5:36:00 PM PDT  

Love your blog!:)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 3:35:00 PM PDT  

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