I'm writing this article in the hopes that even one person can relate to my life and be given some confidence that life can be hard, but thinking positive can get you through it. So here it goes.
This article is based on my personal life experience that I struggled with while going to nursing school till present day December 2017 when I found out I passed my NCLEX.
Nursing School 2011-2013
I went to a small, newly established registered nursing school out in Southern California, with my mom and uncle encouraging me to attend and get my life squared away. Listen and follow in our footsteps (they were both nurses), and your life will be fine. I attended the nursing school, and I was one of the handful of students that strived to do their best and got grades to prove it. My instructors I think enjoyed having me as their student.
While in nursing school, my mother got re-diagnosed with intrauterine cervical cancer that will eventually take me from being a student nurse going to school, and going back home to take care of my mother, repeat cycle 5 days a week (since school was 5 days a week).
I remember it like yesterday, Barack Obama being showered in confetti, and my mother sitting next to me asking me "Will I be okay till the next presidential election?" Coming from a 5'1, super petite, widowed raising two sons from a young age, these were not the type of questions my mother would ask me.
My maternal grandmother would end up passing away in Sept 2012 from old age at the age of 98, following my mother on November 2012 a day before Thanksgiving. Fast forward to April 2013, my future father in law would also pass away after being re-diagnosed with stomach cancer. When really bad things happen in life, they usually come in 3's from my personal experience. It was during these past couple months, I truly learned my life lesson of empathy. I would also be doing my final Med-Surg Adult clinicals on the Oncology floor. Cancer was around me 24/7 from waking up and assisting my mother, to going to clinicals and helping patients. I learned empathy through this life experience that I personally do not wish on anyone else, but it is life, and it is very humbling to find this out in a very hard way.
After Nursing School
I took my 1st exam back in Nov 2013, DID NOT PASS. After going through so much, I was burnt out, physically, mentally, losing my mother, who was my motivation in nursing school was gone. At that time, my girlfriend (now wife) was the only person who can understand what I was going through and personally relate to. We got a dog to help us stay sane and keep our mind off things. During this time after losing 3 individuals, 2 in mine, 1 very important figure in her life, a true companion besides each other was a dog.
DID NOT PASS (185 questions, CPR = mostly above average)
You may be asking yourself, wow thats a long time to wait to retake it. Yes, it is a long time to retake the NCLEX. We are taught from day one in nursing school, THE STATISTICS are AGAINST YOU if you do not pass on the 1st try. Statistics are statistics, but it doesn't take into consideration life coming at you at the speed of light, and hitting several bumps.
DID NOT PASS (265 questions, CPR = mostly above average)
DID NOT PASS (265 questions, CPR = mostly above average, 1/2 below)
Struggles in between tests
Over all the years from 2013 finishing nursing school, till now, I hit many struggles:
My mother would always say, "As you get older, the spending pipe going out gets bigger, the money pipe coming in gets smaller."My advice, money can be made, money can be spent, but it is one struggle that everyone can overcome at some point in their life. During all the failed attempted at the NCLEX, registering with the state, registering with Pearson all racks up. Just keep pushing, as long as your healthy, you have a clear head on top of your shoulder, study hard, pass your NCLEX, life will solve itself being a compassionate nurse.
Over the countless time of retaking my exam, you might feel like a failure. You see your classmates pass, work, their life moving, your life is just standing in one place. My advice is surrounding yourself with true friends who will encourage you regardless of you failing, and always being positive for you while you struggle and try to get a handle on life.
During the time I taken my NCLEX several times, my life hit roadblocks with people who put me down. "He will never pass the NCLEX." "Stop mooching and get a job!." "Why did you marry him?" One of many statements and questions asked, but through it all, you'll see peoples true face. The true friends will encourage you, the foes who question you and give you negativity will always come up during your struggles. You might fallout with them also. But having someone, a partner, a friend, a girlfriend, a fiance, a fiancee, a wife, a husband, someone to stand there with you when the #2 hits the fan, when bad 3's come at you head on, when you feel like everyone is against you, is the most important thing one could have. It will make your relationship with the individual super strong after everything works itself out. You will thank them, you will appreciate them even more. It'll make your bond unbreakable.
Late September, my uncle who during all the hardships, became a motivation to me. During all my struggles, my uncle finished his BSN, got offered multiple positions, but then ended up taking medical leave for a minor back injury. This was my chance.
During this time, my uncle and I sat down. I got scolded, but in the end he told me he will LITERALLY sit next to me while on medical leave, to help me pass my boards. I agreed. From late Sept, for a whole month, I would run on a schedule.
I bought a 1 month subscription to Uworld after reading about it. I would wake up 7/8am, make coffee, sit, review, run Uworld on tutor mode, and go through each Main Category, and break it down to its sub-category. (I.E. Adult > GI) I would do this, take my notes after each rationale, look up stuff in my Med Surg Book if I needed clarification. 75 questions would be the goal. Answering questions is the easy part. Reading the rationales regardless of if its correct or incorrect takes forever. Reviewing it with my uncle takes time. Lunch, dinner passes. Sleep at 12am/1am. Repeat. I was a hermit at home for a whole month. The most I saw out of the outside world was my backyard to let my dog out, water the grass on my down time, do some gardening, get some mail. No driving anywhere. No meeting friends. It was to the point that my car tires had leaves stuck under the tires. I was personally hard on myself, some might see it as extreme, but I am where I am cause I put myself through it. I sat in one place for long periods of time over the month that I had lower back pain, and had to get a Backjoy cushion.
Textbook I Used with UWORLD
Med Surg Book - Didn't read, just used it for reference
LaCharity Priority and Delegation 3rd - Did questions if I had time, mainly read rationales
HESI NCLEX 5e - Read subject matter since it was condensed.
Saunders NCLEX 7e - Read subject matter since it was more condensed than Med Surg book, but more information than HESI book.
Test date: (5th time taking it)
Oct 31, 2017 (Halloween)
I took the exam, super nervous, couldn't even eat my McD's egg sandwich, sat and took 75 questions, didn't shut down; 125 questions, didn't shut down; 185 questions, didn't shut down; 265 questions. Got experimental blue screen 10 questions, only got to answer 3, cause I didn't have time.
(Correct CC#, Wrong 3 digit CVC & Wrong Expiration)
48 hours - Good PVT
2 weeks - Good PVT (no letter from CA, no CPR, no nothing)
4 weeks - Good PVT (no letter from CA, no CPR, no nothing)
Called CA RN BOARDS
@ 4th week - Told "wait 1-2 weeks more" (seriously....... )
@ 5th week - Called and was told "we need to forward your file, but since you waited so long, YOU PASSED, something should post 24-48hrs, if not we will call you"
Wait time from CA NCLEX-RN: 5 weeks for results!!!!!!!!!!!
License # posted around 8pm, December 7th 2017 on CA BRN website: (I had the urge to check my phone and check while we sat down to eat dinner at a restaurant with my wife)
After finding out the results, I paid a visit to my grandmother and mother. I was able to finally fulfill my mother's wish and face her with pride, the weight of the world off my shoulders, and having gone through all of what life has thrown at me.
From the time I went to nursing school, to today December 18th, 2017 writing this article, I personally went through a lot in my life. I grew over the years so much, it humbles me to overcome all the #2 (sh!t) storms life threw at me. I view the world in a different way, appreciate life on a daily basis cause life really is too short. I say thank you always to my wife, tell her I love her every chance I get for being patient with me and being my partner through it all. I will forever be thankful to my uncle for his guidance for the whole month he sat there by my side. He didn't say anything, just sat there to motivate me and hold me accountable.
I hope after reading this, my article may truly inspire someone not to give up after going to nursing school, paying so much, and or possibly struggling through life. If you don't do it for yourself, do it for someone you love or appreciate in your life. Find motivation. Ask for help. Always keep a positive mind. Be thankful for being able to come this far in your life. Put in the effort and study. Relax and take test. You will be fine cause we all have our time to shine. Mine just took forever. (5 years!!!)
Article dedicated to: my grandmother, mother, and father-in-law.
Thankful to: my wife, my uncle, my aunt, my friends, my friends parents, and our dog.