Here is my story. Yes, I did pass only after many months of studying and practicing and after attending Tina's Workshop. I even went back (drove down) for a few hours of review just before my test date. I had to redo one lab and passed 3 PCSs. Reading other posts relieved some anxiety just knowing a bit about the facility. Hope this will do the same for others who will test. (of the 6, 4 passed)
THE HOTEL: I stayed at the Inntowner, the recommended hotel by Excelsior. It wasn't cheap, but I think it was worth it. The shuttle service is great, and the hotel front desk knows all about us and our nerves about this test. Andrew, the shuttle driver on the weekends was a built-in informer for us. He's very knowledgeable about "us", giving tips to the hospital and telling us what's been working or not. His information is from the "source" (those testers who show up weekly and ride his shuttle!) FYI -He does have a little tip basket. It was suggested by our CA that we bring some change for snacks from the cafeteria. Regarding food/meals: i ate some meals at the hotel restaurant-but would advise elsewhere for dinner. The Italian Restaurant across the street is a keeper--pricey but excellent. They do have 1/2 portions too.
THE HOSPITAL: It's a short drive from the Best Western Inntowner to Meriters. We waited in the front lobby Friday pm and were picked up by our CA. She was friendly but professional. She took 6 of us to the Simulation Lab, a room next to the cafeteria, 1 floor below the lobby. For us, the room was freezing. It might have been a combo of nerves and room temperature, but I would strongly suggest bringing a sweater or jacket-esp. because our hands need to move! The labs were layed out just as I expected. The only difference was that there were 6 testers standing at each one with their little clip board ready to assess us! Some did show they wanted us to do well. I thought they were all very fair and as friendly as they could be. I passed 3 that evening, failing the IV Push station. I got a med that was to be pushed over 30 seconds and it threw me. I went over my time limit by 2 minutes. After that point, I wrote down the ending time of each lab according to my watch time. That way, I could glance over on my page and see how much time I had left! When I get tense, I realized I go SLOWER than usual! Yes, I did practice my labs a zillion times. Believe me, I picked up my pace for the remaining labs.
PCSs: You are given your 1st assignment on a Kardex Friday evening. Only the Planning Phase page can be filled out that night. Saturday morning we met in the Lab Simulation room and were off with our assigned CEs after our CA read the usual rules and regulations and checked our Carpenitos and Drug books for marks or notes. My assignment was read out to me by my CE after an orientation of the equipment and rooms on the floor. No real mystery about the equipment. A brief report was given by the assigned RN and a very detailed printout of the patients recent status was also provided. Here you will find the baselines. Once your Planning Phase begins, write down the ending time of your PCS on your grid sheet. You may just have to refer to it. I didn't have much time left over for any of my PCSs. I did document thoroughly. I stress: your grid is your bible! Memorize your pneumonics. You do not want to be wondering what the 2nd "P" of your pneumonics stands for during your PCS. You will need your pneumonics 2 times: once when drawing up your grid and again when documenting. I spend a good deal of time writing a clear complete one out, hilighting, etc. Then it's show time. Verbalize while performing assessments during the Implementation Phase, ie, pt. with abd. discomfort. I was assigned deep breathing and coughing so I made sure I said "using a pillow to splint while coughing may help reduce your abdominal discomfort"-pt. stated that she thought it was a great idea. Evaluation Phase: Your Nursing Diagnosis' should relate to the patient's current condition. Keep them simple though. The layout of the rooms on each floor was ok. Alcohol dispensers are at the front of each pt's room and "nurse servers" which contained misc. supplies and a locked drawer of their meds which the CE removed for me. Remember to wash/alcohol hands before entering these cabinets-they are clean.
Do all assessments as much as possible, as soon as possible. On my 2nd PCS, I took in the vitals machine upon entering the room the first time. You want to try to do all the AOC and VS as soon as possible. Sure enough, as soon as I finished both, transport entered and the patient was wisked off to radiology! Your assessments should be methodically done, not rushed though. Verbalization is good. The more information the CE has to hear from you as you "perform" the better, I think.
Your nerves will subside as you become more familiar with your surroundings, at least mine did. It's human nature to be anxious and nervous about the unknown. I listened to my ipod, took hot baths and used positive affirmations while in my hotel room. Remember, the CEs are humans just like us. Focus on patient care and your job there as a nursing student representative of Excelsior and you will do great!
new tip from Clinical Advisor: use Carpenitos! CE's may well refer to it when assessing your Nursing Diagnosis and r/t selections!