Last month I got a mail from the College of Nurses of Ontario. They told me I passed the CPNRE: an exam for practical nurses in Ontario. I was ecstatic. It was a wonderful feeling to finally be able to breathe after waiting for a month for the result.
Thinking about it now, I remembered the time when I also took my nursing licensure exam in the Philippines. I recalled how I was so proud of myself. I was able to do it through hard work, patience and dedication. I wrote this article because I want to share how I was able to do it. If you are from the Philippines, even if you're not, and you need practical advice or inspiration, this article is for you. These are the things that I did and I suggest you do to:
Even before I graduated from nursing, I was already preparing myself for the exam. Months before, I was already researching for common topics, health related news and asking past test takers for tips. I was already gathering possible useful publications and reviewers. Searching the internet for other helpful resources.
Hunt for the best review centre for YOU
Review centre can be very helpful as they can help you not only on the academic aspect but also the mental and emotional aspect of the exam. In the Philippines, there are plenty of review centres for aspiring nurses. The prices can range from affordable to pricey. You should take some time to look for the best deal: not just for the price but also for the teaching method. Some utilizes bullet points, mnemonics and straight to the point lectures, while others are more into summarization and in-depth explanations. Both can be effective for the right applicants, I chose the latter. Some review centres also offer discounts, attend-now-pay-later options and group discounts. If you have friends or are short of money, you may want to look into these options.
Once you are already in the program, do what I did. If your centre allows it, attend the subjects you are not so good at several times. I used to attend certain subjects several times even if just for the sake of listening to it again or while reviewing my notes. When you are in the class, focus on the lecturer. Listen and understand the key points. If you have a question-please don't hesitate to ask.
Read, read and read
Now, I know not everyone can afford or want to attend a review centre. All hope is not lost; many people were able to pass the exam without relying on review centres. These people chose to read a lot of books and studying materials: be it bought or borrowed. Personally, I also didn't rely solely on the things I learned from the review centre, I also put a lot of time reading, studying and understanding concepts on my own. I remembered writing the topics that I'm not familiar with and read more about it when I got back home. I reread my notes and made sure I really understood the concepts. I just kept on reading.
Practice makes perfect
Keep encircling/shading those letters. Answer the practice questions from your textbooks and reread those topics that you didn't get right the first or second time. Look for other practice questions: ask your friends and family, talk to your professors, look for used practice materials on your local used bookstores and/or search the internet. There are a lot of resources out there-you just have to look and ask. Reread the rationale for each and every questions. Make sure you really understand why option D was the right answer and not option B-which looks and feels right too, same with option A and option C.
I told myself to never be late on a review. I also made sure that I eat breakfast and have at least 6 hours of sleep. I set a limit everyday. I studied during the day, therefore I sleep at night-no all nighters for me. I trained myself to maximize my time. This way, when it's time to work, it's time to work. Discipline is what separates I-will-pass takers from I-might-pass takers. I did these too because I believe that focus is vital to learning. To increase my focus, I listened to instrumental musics set into a very low volume-almost inaudible-to mask all the noises around me. You have to find a way to keep your focus. You can try music, like me, or you can try other things: you may want to exercise, do meditation, try breathing exercises or even brisk walking before studying. Anything to keep you focus.
Rest is part of the process
As much as you want to study the whole day, you really shouldn't. It may be possible for a few days or weeks but soon you'll begin to feel the consequences. Your body need some time to process all of the information; the best way to do that is to rest. I remembered setting time for studying. I study for 30 minutes to an hour and then I stop, go outside and rest for 15 minutes. Then I go back to my room and study again. I repeat the whole process, unless it is time to eat or sleep.
As part of the resting phase, I also made sure that I didn't lose my social life. I know it is stressful and scary thinking about the exam and the horror of failing, but don't let it scares you away from your friends and families. Spend some time with them, give yourself a break from the whole nursing world from time to time. Remember you are a human not a robot. Although if you insist, then you can treat it as way of recalibrating your brain and recharging your body.
Train your heart and soul too
Motivate yourself. I remembered one of my lecturers's advice: make success as your only option. This quote really stuck with me. From that day on I psyched myself to only focus on success. I also visualized myself already a nurse or that I just passed the exam. Be creative. Be positive. Remember to train your mind too; it is important that you believe in yourself-that you can pass.
For your soul: pray or meditate. Try to breathe and relax. Let go of all the worries. You can do it. Claim it, it's yours.
That is all. I hope I was able to help and motivate you. I wish you all the best. Good luck-future registered nurse!