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havehope, ADN, CNA, RN 12,696 Views

Joined: Oct 29, '10; Posts: 391 (28% Liked) ; Likes: 204
Registered Nurse; from US
Specialty: None

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  • Mar 18 '16

    Every nurse dreads the day they have to sit down and take their boards, aka the NCLEX. This exam is built up in the minds of nursing students all over the world. Personally, I imagined this test being a huge green monster with snotty mucus, only one top tooth, and a grimace to scare any small child. In reality, the NCLEX is an exam that can be as short as 75 questions or as long as 265 questions. The kicker? You ready for this? At any time between 75 and 265 questions the computer will shut off, ending your exam. With no sign of whether you passed or failed. THE HORROR!

    Well, I am here to tell you all about my NCLEX experience. The studying, the test taking, and the dreaded 48 hours waiting for my results.

    First, let me tell you a little bit about my nursing program. I went to nursing school in an accelerated program as a second Bachelor's degree. I chose a small, Catholic school (although the religious affiliation has nothing to with any of this) in the Bronx with a picturesque campus and a nursing school that accepted both myself and my cousin. The beauty stops there. I know most nursing students will claim their program is disorganized, late to tell students any important information, and has the worst teachers EVER. Well come to find out this dreaded trifecta culminated with the nursing program at this school (I am withholding its name for good reason). It started with a professor who nearly failed half of the 32 students in the NURSING FUNDAMENTALS. Then moved on to waiting until the night before clinicals started to learn our placements. With a final resting stop in the financial aid office. Weekly.

    But I digress, you are not interested in my terrible nursing school. Instead you want to know how I passed this slobbery, wart-filled green monster known as the NCLEX. Let me continue....

    I graduated Nursing school in mid-December and took a couple of weeks off to spend the holidays with friends and family before I began studying. Let me preface this with the fact that I graduated nursing school with a FANTASTIC job offer contingent on me passing this exam. NO PRESSURE!!

    Anyway, my nursing program utilized the Kaplan study program throughout our nursing degree. At the time most student dreaded taking these exams as they were usually on the same days as our final exams. I never really cared about Kaplan nor did I take it very seriously. That all changed when the calendar turned to 2016 and I was faced with an unknown test date and one shot at not completely messing this up.

    (If you only care about my test taking tips and nothing else, skip to the end. The next few paragraphs are truly only helpful for people getting ready for the test.)

    The first few days of studying I was puzzled, staring endlessly at notes I had taken throughout nursing school, study books filed with 1000s of questions, and a Kaplan website that claimed they held the "key to success." Well I decided I'd begin with a content review. I watched endless hours of videos Kaplan provided, bored through the Saunders review book, and hyperventilated my way through reviewing topics covered in Nursing school. As I reviewed content I created a binder filled with all of my notes, tips, tricks, and mnemonics to help me remember random tidbits.

    Once my "brain book" was created, I decided practice questions were the next logical step. Now that I was supposed to know all of my content, I needed to put all that information to good use. So enter the many weeks of practice tests, practice tests, guessed it; MORE practice tests. My scores were average, never reaching above an 80 (and boy I was pleased with that!). By week three, the panic had certainly sunk in. If only I knew then what panic and anxiety I would truly experience. HA! I worried that putting all of my marbles in the Kaplan basket (or drinking gallons of the Kaplan Kool-Aid) was going to royally screw me over when I went to take my test.

    So onto step number 17 of this miserable experience. I purchased a three week subscription to have access to EVEN MORE PRACTICE QUESTIONS from the writers of the actual test. This helped minimized my panic at the time and I felt the questions were actually pretty helpful.

    I studied in total for 6 weeks. 4 on my own and 2 with my cousin. But nothing and I mean NOTHING could prepare me for the horror that this exam brings to the minds of so many young, impressionable, terrified baby nurses.

    I took the exam (on a Wednesday) and the computer shut off at 75 questions. I had only 9 "Select All That Apply" questions, no Med-Math, no ordering; NOTHING. And the grand finale....I had 3 questions on the Exact. Same. Topic. (Closed MRIs to be exact). I was sure, let me repeat SURE that I had failed.

    To compare, my cousin (who took the test on the same day) also had 75 questions, but instead had 20+ select all that apply questions, a few ordering AND med-math. The questions I had were NOTHING like either of the practice questions provided by the two companies I had invested in. I walked out of the testing center feeling like a horrible, embarrassing idiot who not only failed this exam but also lost the job opportunity that I had moved 1000s of miles for. PLUS I failed in the most EPIC way possible, with the minimum amount of questions. That meant that I screwed up so badly that the test decided I was nowhere near a competent nurse.

    Have I told you I was SURE I had failed. Boy I was in a FOUL MOOD. When we got back to our apartment I searched and searched online for people in the same boat as me. BIG MISTAKE. I cried, on and off, for 3 days. While I waited for my results. 2 days later (a Friday) we were refreshing our computers every hour waiting for our results. We had people from our new job calling to check and see if we'd passed or not. And we knew our family was waiting with baited breath as they were almost as nervous as we were. FINALLY, both of our results became available. And every time we had to click something on the results website, we would count to 3 and do it at the same time. The agonizing seconds after we clicked "submit" felt like hours. We both looked at each other with shocked faces. And finally 2, maybe 3 seconds had passed and we asked each other what had happened.

    When we both screamed "I PASSED" There were tears, laughter, screaming, dancing, and jumping!! I have never been more ecstatic (and surprised). The best feeling in the world was right before we called our families. We were the only ones who knew we had passed. It has been a little over a day since I found out that I was officially Nurse Paige and it still feels surreal that on Monday our new job starts and we will be caring for little humans (in the pediatrics department)

    So now for the grand finale:

    My advice to all you test preppers:

    1. Go with your GUT I cannot stress this enough. Yes, I had three questions on the same topic, asking the exact same thing. And each time I chose the same answer. I was sure I was correct (and who knows if I actually was) but I went with my gut choice on each question.

    2. Study with a buddy Your parents and friends may offer to help but the best help will come from someone who is equally as terrified and afraid of this exam.

    3. Invest in Kaplan
    The best part wasn't actually the content review. It was the review to questions where this awesome lady named Barbara walked you through hundreds of practice questions to show you how to get the correct answer without knowing much. I don't know if Kaplan made the difference between me passing or failing, but I do think they explain things well (although the do miss some big topics)

    4. Do what you want the day before the test.
    Everywhere I looked told me to take the day off before my exam. However, this was not me; and this was not how I had studied or prepared for any of nursing school. So, I studied up until hours before the exam (and was completely OK with it).

    5. You are going to freak out after the exam.
    You may think you passed or you may think you have failed. Accept the fact that you have to wait 48 hours before receiving your results. It's terrible. There is nothing anyone can say to make you feel better about yourself. You may cry, you may laugh, but in the end we all wait those dreaded 48 hours. It's ok. Do whatever feels right. See a movie, clean the house, make homemade cookies (or like me, do all three of these things in between your mental breakdowns and anxiety attacks).

    Finally, you've got this. You have studied for this. And if all else fails when prioritizing who to take care of first after a fictional tornado, don't choose the person who hasn't been breathing for 10 minutes (He's already dead). I know this from personal, practice question experience.

  • Mar 2 '16

    Quote from himilayaneyes
    At the end of the day, you have to follow the MD's orders.

    ...follow the orders. If there's an order, then your butt is covered.

    I beg to differ with this rationale, this type of thinking can get nurses in a lot of trouble.

    Even if there is an order, it doesn't mean we should just blindly follow it. I believe the standard that we are held to is what another reasonable, prudent nurse would do given the same situation. Doctors are not above making mistakes, and we, as nurses, need to be able to use our critical thinking skills to question orders that just don't seem right.

    On the topic of peg tubes to suction, I can't say that I have seen this being done.

  • Feb 26 '16

    SATA questions (or any alternate format, really) are not necessarily above passing standard just because they are SATA. There are SATA questions at all ability levels. The number of SATA questions you get doesn't indicate how well you're doing or likelihood of passing... that's a myth. Good luck!!

  • Feb 16 '16

    August 6, 2015, I graduated Nursing School.
    On September 14, 2015, I started my brand new job as a Registered Nurse on a med/surg unit, 4 minutes from my home.
    Tomorrow will be 6 months from my graduation and I can't believe I have already been gainfully employed for about 5 of those months!!!
    I had been putting in applications two months prior to graduation, thinking that they would get overlooked (as I would be a new grad.) I was wondering how we would survive if I hadn't gotten a job by October, November or Christmas! I couldn't believe how fast it all happened. I had accepted the position even before taking the NCLEX!
    From reading posts on here for the past couple of months, it seems like this happened so easy for me ... compared to others here. I am amazed when I see posts about being 8 months or a year out of school and not having a job yet :/

    Every day as a med/surg nurse is a learning experience. It stresses me out to no end.
    But, I love working as a nurse.
    So thankful.

    p.s. Just paid my student loans offff!

  • Feb 14 '16

    Don't trust the nurse before you, assess and document what YOU see

  • Feb 14 '16

    Brian created something with that has left a positive impact on the nursing profession and the future of nursing. He will be remembered with deep respect for his role in that. We are all shocked and saddened by this news.

  • Feb 14 '16

    You just are randomly curious about this. You really joined AllNurses just to get opinions about this?

    Color me skeptical...

  • Feb 14 '16

    Quote from Libby1987
    0Started this thread to find out how many of you feel that you have accomplished job embeddedness.

    In what type of setting do you work?

    Home health, rural to smal town

    What is the culture of your organization?

    Treating people like people
    patient focused
    family focused, meaning 2 or 4 legged, we support those who need to attend to the needs of their family

    How many years have you worked there?

    15 ish

    What is it that makes you so connected to your job?

    Work relationships with coworkers, managers, providers
    invested in the community
    patients easily satisfied
    marked impact on patient/caregiver
    fair reimbursement compared to COL
    OP started this thread to get homework help.

  • Feb 14 '16

    Welcome to AN! Is it safe to assume your health issues have resolved?

    One thing I recommend for all students is to take a learning styles inventory so that they know how they best learn and retain information. If you aren't someone who learns best by reading, it would make no sense to spend the bulk of study time on reading. Quality of studying beats quantity.

    Beyond that, there is a forum under the students tab in the yellow bar across the top dedicated solely to study tips.

  • Feb 13 '16

    A pretty good article. I worked nights for several years and my rules were: 1) If you work nights, you work nights. You don't work a rotating shift. 2) Keep your wake/sleep hours the same whether you're scheduled to work or not. My girlfriend would attempt to normalize on her days off and was constantly exhausted. I did much better keeping my routine. 3) Both a sleep mask and white noise are necessary for decent sleep during the day.

    I had a boss who used to call me around 1300 to see if I'd be willing to come in at 1500 and work a double. She invariably would start the conversation with: "Whatcha doing?". "Sleeping", I'd say. "Must be nice to sleep all day", she'd say. Well, that got old in a hurry. I broke her of it by blowing up at her on the phone when she'd done one time too many. I used every cuss word I knew, and coming from a military family, my vocabulary is both vast and varied. She couldn't get off the phone quick enough.

    The next time I saw her, I gave her my usual greeting and a smile. She said she needed to talk to me about what I said during the phone call. "What phone call?", I said, "I didn't get any phone calls. I slept all day without anybody bothering me. And I surely didn't talk to you; I'd have remembered."

    I got away with it! No more daytime phone calls, either.

  • Feb 8 '16

    Quote from centexRN
    Start CPR.
    Yep, anything else opens you up to enormous liability issues.

    Look at it this way: it's a lot easier (and more effective) to stop doing CPR after finding out that someone has a DNR than it is to start after finding out that the person does want CPR. Always err on the side of resuscitation when unsure.

  • Feb 8 '16
  • Feb 5 '16

    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    You should be worried. 3 of the 4 last hospitals I worked at it forbid IV push Phenergan. It's a severe vesicant and can do a lot of damage. We always gave it in at least 500ml of saline IV. When I had my last baby, I was given Phenergan IVP and it was done slowly but still infiltrated and cause SEVERE pain in my arm. It was awful. I would not want to inflict that on anyone else.
    5 hours after the IVP the patient was completely fine, never experienced any symptoms or pain, she pushed the Phenergan with 10ml of NS and while IVF were running at 125ml/hr but she should still be worried?

    I completely disagree with you.

    She has no reason to worry and the patient is fine.

  • Feb 5 '16


    We'd like to see YOUR thoughts FIRST so we can help guide your logic. Tell us what YOU've discovered and then posters here will most likely be glad to assist you.

  • Feb 5 '16

    I did my ADN and just got my BSN in May 2015 while working