My name is Claire and I am a french trained nurse. From as far as I remember, I have always wanted to become a nurse. Is it because my mom was one, or because of the hours I spent watching ER on TV? I don't know, but I've never really asked myself what I wanted to become when I grow up. It's always been clear. Little did I know, though, that a few years after I graduated I would become a Registered Nurse in the United-States of America.
Beginning My Journey to the United States
It all started as a pretty romantic story! In 2009, after graduation, I decided to sign up on a website to discuss with foreign people. I had always wanted to learn how to speak English (and not just at a high school level, which is, let's be honest, pretty primitive). I wrote to 3 different persons on the website and one of them was my now husband. We talked for hours every day for about a year and finally decided to meet in person. After that, we continued to travel back and forth to visit each other for 4 years. Long story short, in 2014 he proposed and we got married in the summer of 2015. Today we have 2 beautiful children.
How Does a Foreign Nurse Become a Nurse in the United States?
But let's go back to when we were still dating in 2011. I started back then to do some research online about how to become a nurse in the U.S. All the information I found were very confusing (and not only because my English wasn't as good as today) so I quickly gave up on the idea. Then in 2013, I decided to look into it more deeply and to actually start the process.
I signed up on the CGFNS website and paid for the Credential Evaluation Service which was the service asked by the board of nursing of the state where I wanted to be licensed. I also contacted my nursing school and licensing authority to explain to them what they would have to send, that way they could get prepared and be ready when I would mail them the documents.
Back then, the CGFNS was a lot faster than lately and also not as demanding (nowadays, they seem to systemically ask for additional information and take forever to process each new document they receive). I got my report done in a couple of months . However, I did not get enough points on the TOEFL even after all the long hours I spent studying for it. I was missing 4 points in the speaking section. A few months after that, my husband proposed and I decided to take a break with the process because it was expensive and we were about to pay a lot of money for my visa and our wedding.
Restarting the Process - More Challenges
Fast forward to February 2018. My son was then 1.5 years old and I decided that I wanted to restart the process and get done with it once for all. I sent back a few documents to the CGFNS who after 4 years requested new information from my licensing authority. This took a while as the licensing authority's staff responsible for filling out the forms weren't exactly what I call "efficient"... In the meantime, I studied for the IELTS (my TOEFL had expired by then) that I took at the beginning of June and passed.
Preparing for NCLEX
At the beginning of September, finally, the CGFNS had everything they needed and sent my report to the board of nursing. A week or so later, I got my ATT and scheduled my N-CLEX.
At that point, I was pregnant and had a 2-year-old to take care of. I scheduled my test for December 15th that year and for the next weeks/months, I studied as much as possible, all day long. I was giving my son lectures on heart failure, renal disease, pharmacology, .....everything! Of course, he didn't care, but it helps me a lot to remember things when I say them out loud. When I was done reviewing the core content, I started doing questions every single day. I set myself a goal of 150 questions a day. Sometimes I would do a little less, sometimes 300. But every day, for about a month, I took questions (well, to be honest, one Sunday I didn't work at all... but I made up for it the next day!). I took a total of probably around 5000 questions total.
And here we were: December 15th, 7.5 months pregnant and stressed as I had never been before. I took the test and after barely 1,5 hour and 82 question the computer stoped. I was absolutely positive I had fail. My husband would tell you that I was completely hysterical (remember, I was very pregnant and therefore very hormonal...which did not help)! But then 48 hours later, I found out through the fast results on Pearson Vue that I had passed and I couldn't believe it!
Today... the Journey Continues
Today I still haven't started to work as an RN, as I am a stay-at-home mom and entrepreneur (as you can see on my profile). When I was in France, I worked for about 5 years in Orthopedic and Vascular surgery. When I was working on day shifts, I had 14-16 patients to take care of (yes, it is a lot in a heavy surgery ward!) and at night (be seated, please), I had up to 35 patients! The working conditions there as nurses are definitely not as appealing as they are in the U.S. We are also paid more than half less. Sadly, Nurses in France definitely don't feel appreciated for all the hard work they do. So as much as I am terrified to work in the US because of all the language and cultural differences, I also can't wait for this new adventure to start!
Follow Your Dream
So for all of you, internationally-trained nurses out there, dreaming to get their license in the U.S., as tough, long, and frustrating as the process can be, don't give up! It is doable and so rewarding. You will be proud of yourself and you will be right to be! Good Luck!