After you send the required NCLEX testing form, and recieve confirmation, you just schedule your test at a testinng center. Depends on how soon you send that info in. I knew people who took the test a week afer graduation, but I HIGHLY suggest that you DON'T do that! For those who took the test without further repite, and then study failed miserably! Everyone is different of course, you may be that exception. Prepare, Prepare, PREPARE!
You get results within 3 weeks, I think. It depends on when you take the test [peak time right after graduation]. I got my results in less than 2 weeks. I waited until August to take the test. I didn't pay for any additional courses. I did use Mosby's NCLEX Comprehensive study guide, and Frye's Nursing Bullets. I didn't use class notes at all. My computer test took 90 minutes, I scored very high - I KNEW I was well prepared and rested. Honey, if you graduated from an ADN program - I say YOU CAN PASS! Cramming 4 years of coursework into 2 years! - I give anyone that can do that and keep their sanity a standing ovation! Know your math, facts about; lithium tox, h&h, and it may be heavy on psych. If the test gives you the same type of question more than once, it is making it easier for you to answer. Too many of these and your score goes down. Think, weed-out, and conceptualize before you answer.
I found that right off that I didn't know too many answers right off the bat - BUT, I thought my way through the process. For example; What would make a blood pressure drop? Bleeding, meds, vascular dilitation . . then go from there. You cannot back-up on the test, and you have four hours. Read the info they give you on preparing for the test: familarize with the computer, take ear plugs, don't eat immediately before you take the test, wear layers of clothes, and lastly, go to the center at a time relative to YOUR sleep/wake cycle!
So far as working as a "real RN", everybody has to learn. Find a friendly face with lots of patience and experience who likes to mentor . . and pick their brains! Take some hands-on continuing ed [even if you don't have to]. Ask to watch proceedures, offer to help others, but do your OWN work FIRST!
The hardest part of the job is time management - once you get a groove going, you will be ok! STAY OUT OF THE POLITICS!!!!
Always be prepared, admit your shortcomings, admit when you have made mistakes so they may be made right. Be professional but not aloof. Make realistic goals for yourself, and ask for feedback from people you can trust. Can't help you with the childcare problem - that's relative to your area and emplyment situation. Good Luck and Welcome!
Keeping the Faith