Posted by isntshelovlei on February 3, 2012
After proceeding through various security measures—fingerprints, photographs, and palm vein scans—I sat in front of that infamous computer terminal. The last two-and-a-half years of my life had been leading up to this moment. I took a deep breath and clicked “Start.”
It wasn’t that bad—I kind of pretended I was sitting at home doing practice questions on my laptop. I had beyond my fair share of the dreaded SATAs (select all that apply) which supposedly is a good sign—I’ve heard that they’re considered upper-level questions and if you’re getting a lot of them then more than likely you’re above the passing line.
For those of you who may not know, the NCLEX-RN can be anywhere from 75 to 265 questions (which is why they give you up to six hours to complete the exam). Obviously, everyone wants to only get 75 questions. And most people whose exam cuts off after 75 questions do seem to pass. But it’s all about demonstrating minimum competency. If you’ve accomplished that by 75 questions then that’s great but if not the computer will usually continue to give you more questions so that you can try to dig yourself “out of the hole” so-to-speak and get above that line. Contrary to popular belief, it is also possible to fail with 75 questions. How you answer those first 20 or so questions sort of determines your general competence level. Get most of them right and you position yourself comfortably above the passing line; however if you start off not doing so hot…
After I clicked the radio button for my answer to #75, I hovered my mouse hesitantly over the “Next” button. With one eye shut, holding my breath (and before I passed out), I clicked…and the screen went blank!
It was over!!
Afterward there’s a survey, another palm vein scan (they wanna make sure you’re still you and all), and they send you packing.
And then you wait…
This is truly the nerve-wracking part. The waiting. Official exam results can take weeks to receive in the mail; quick-results can’t be obtained for 48 hours. What on earth are you supposed to do in the meantime? Most people opt for the “Pearson Vue Trick” aka “PVT.” This is an unofficial way of checking whether you passed or not. Basically you log on and attempt to register for the exam again. If the system doesn’t allow you to register again and you get a popup that says something along the lines of “you’ve already registered for this exam, contact your board” you passed. However, if the credit card page comes up, then…sorry, you did not. A nifty little step-by-step guide can be found here.
So I did the PVT and got the “good” popup (make sure the status says “delivery successful” otherwise it’s too early to do it) so I was feeling pretty good. And the very next day my RN license was already posted on the state website—I don’t think you can get much more official than that! I’m a nurse! 😀
To those who have yet to take the exam be encouraged, be confident, and kick NCLEX butt! Good luck!
Posted in Nursing school | Tagged: exam, NCLEX, Nursing school, nursing student, pearson vue trick, PVT, RN | 9 Comments »
Posted by isntshelovlei on January 14, 2012
I know, I know…I’ve been a bad blogger—but not without just cause I assure you.
So I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I’ve finished my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing!! Now I’m just up to my eyeballs in NCLEX prep as I impatiently await the arrival of my ATT (authorization to test for those who aren’t fluent in nursingstudentese). The bad news is…I will no longer be blogging at TDAMCP.
Somewhere along the way the blog and my identity became intermingled which was never really my intention and I’d really like to regain my anonymity. Not that I plan on violating HIPAA or slandering my organization or my colleagues or anything, I’d just like the real me and the work me to be separate. I also haven’t decided which direction I want to go with my blogging now that I’m no longer a student nurse, whether to continue personal experience blogging or switch to a more professional type of blog. In any event, TDAMCP will remain up for those who may want to reference topics in some of my posts or the resources found herein (I’ll also still be reachable via the Contact Me page as well). And of course I’ll update you all once I pass boards and have officially “crossed over” to the other (dark?) side…
But somewhere, out there, a new grad RN blog has already been born, with yours truly at the helm (I hope they’re ready…). Maybe I’ll see you there… 😉
Posted in Nursing, Nursing school | Tagged: Nursing, Nursing school, nursing student | 4 Comments »
Posted by isntshelovlei on September 6, 2011
Since I’m so close to taking my boards (knock on wood), I figured now would be a good time to look at a couple NCLEX-RN review courses. As studying awaits (and time waits for no nursing student), I am only going to compare two for now—NCSBN’s Learning Extension and Kaplan.
The price: Nursing students (well, any students in this economy) are interested in the numbers. How much am I gonna have to rob Peter (or the parentals) to pay Paul? Well NCSBN’s courses will cost you any where from $50 – $160 depending on how many weeks of access you are interested in; whereas Kaplan is gonna run you about $418 – $499 (this figure is based on my zip code, so double-check your own zip code for the most accurate price in your area). But holy moly cannoli!
The timeframe: NCSBN offers 3, 5, 8, or 15 weeks of access to their course. Kaplan provides 21-hours of class time, plus 3 months of access to their online resources (more on those coming up).
The format: NCSBN is a totally online “campus,” offerring 24-hour access and the ability to work at your own pace. Kaplan has three basic format options—Classroom, Classroom Anywhere, and On Demand. Classroom is basically an in-class, brick and mortar type of deal (like we nursing students want to go to anymore classes—but, to each his own)—set dates, set times, set locations. Classroom Anywhere courses still have set dates and times, but allow you to log in from wherever. And On Demand pretty much speaks for itself—you hold the reins, and can log on and do your thing pretty much whenever (within your 3 months of access of course).
The meat and potatoes: NCSBN boasts access to 1,100+ “NCLEX-style” questions, 2,000+ pages of content review, in addition to other resources such as medical dictionaries and other online references. And if the idea of no professor standing in the front of the room freaks you out have no fear—they do offer the ability to ask questions via their “Ask the Instructor” feature. With Kaplan’s program, after your 21-hours of class instruction (if you selected one of the “Classroom” options), you’ll have 3 months access to 3 online resources—Qbank (question bank), Question trainer (practice tests), and a Diagnostic and Readiness test. Kaplan also offers a pass-or-your-money-back guarantee (certain restrictions do apply).
So that’s an *ahem* brief overview of the NCSBN and Kaplan NCLEX-RN review courses. On the one hand my id is screaming “What are you waiting for? 50 bucks?!? Can’t beat that with a stick!” But on the other hand my ego is saying, “Well wait a minute now, they must be mighty confident to offer a 100% money-back guarantee…”
So what’s a girl to do?
Posted in Nursing school | Tagged: compare, contrast, Kaplan, Learning Extension, NCLEX, NCSBN, Nursing school, nursing student, review course | 8 Comments »
Posted by isntshelovlei on September 3, 2011
The last call…the final destination…the season finale…
..is finally here.
Can-you-believe-it? I wouldn’t if I didn’t have the battle scars (and the gray hairs) to prove it…
So—before classes started I trekked to campus and happily marched into the security office to purchase a parking permit. The parking guy asked me if I wanted a full year permit to which I answered no, it’d be my last semester. I am sure I sported a Cheshire grin.
Do you know this guy had the nerve to tell me not to be so cocky about finishing on time—not that he didn’t wish me well he added as an afterthought (um too late, don’t try to clean it up now). Just crush my hopes and dreams why don’t you?…
Of course—sh!t happens—and I plan on just about everything but that happening. So I internally bristled and thought to myself that if he wanted to spend the rest of his days in that 5 x 8 parking office then he was free to do so, but I was getting the heck out of there. Hmph. The nerve.
But I’m ready (or as ready as I can get anyway). All of my books (required and recommended) have arrived, binders are set up, chapter bookmarks are made, powerpoints are printed and hole-punched, and assignments/exams are loaded into iStudiez Pro. Let’s get it crackin’!
I even have the first week—though truncated thanks to Hurricane Irene—under my belt already.
And clinicals start this weekend!
Here we go again!…
Posted in Nursing school | Tagged: last semester, Nursing school, nursing student | Leave a Comment »
Posted by isntshelovlei on July 26, 2011
Here I am back at my poor neglected blog with its splattering of unfinished posts. I just haven’t had the time or the energy this semester…
So here’s my summer semester roundup!
This summer I took Public Health Nursing (also known as “Public HELLth” if you follow me on twitter) and the Art of Listening—I know, WTF right? But I needed one last elective that had to be an art (already had credit), language (only offered the same night as Public Health), literature (too much reading/writing), history (same), or music. So Art of Listening it was. And it was offered online which saved me another night of trekking to campus.
I actually thought I might enjoy a slight break from nursing topics. How bad could it be with no meds, no care plans, and no NCLEX practice questions? Bad enough apparently. Besides the fact that the class was all over the place the topic just didn’t hold my interest—I developed some serious ADHD trying to get all my reading and forum posts done by all of the crazy deadlines.
And then there was Public HELLth. O. M. G. To her credit I will say the professor tried to keep it interesting: breaking up the lectures with videos, tossing frisbees with communicable diseases taped on them around the classroom, and other theatrical stunts—it just didn’t work. She did give out candy at the beginning of class which was nice—especially if there were pink Starbursts (my fave). But eventually, I just stopped going if there wasn’t an exam/quiz or if we didn’t have something due that day. I found her lectures distracting and understood things a lot better when I just read and studied on my own. I’m not trying to corrupt anyone else, that’s just what happened to work for me, for this particular semester. On the other hand, the instructor I have this upcoming fall I’ve had before and I wouldn’t dare miss one of her classes—her lectures are like GOLD.
I also managed to squeeze in a second peds clinical rotation this semester (we usually only have one) and worked as an Asthma Educator in a peds clinic. And man was there some educating to do! From parents giving their kids their maintenance inhaler when they should have been using their rescue inhaler (and wondering why it wasn’t working) to the parents who just didn’t see the point of giving the maintenance inhaler every day when their kid wasn’t currently having any difficulty breathing—and so they didn’t (le sigh). No wonder there are so many uncontrolled pediatric asthmatics and asthma is the #1 admitting diagnosis in our local children’s hospital. Sheesh.
But that’s all over. Now I get a month off to rest my fragile mind (and get some sand between my toes) before heading back into the flames for the grand finale. That’s right—final semester coming up! I can hardly contain my excitement. Until then…
Peace, love, and coffee…
Posted in Nursing school | Tagged: clinicals, education, elective, music, Nursing, Nursing school, nursing student, public health | Leave a Comment »
Posted by isntshelovlei on May 5, 2011
My poor neglected blog. But I have been so totally swamped (and tired) this semester. Between adjusting to night shift (as if that’s even really possible), fighting the nursing research demons, keeping up with the reading in med surg, and then just life in general…sheesh.
So what else I have I been up to? Let’s see… I was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International, Honor Society of Nursing. I am now also a member of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Incorporated (shout out to the Spring 2011 line of Theta Gamma Beta).
Then on the home-front there’s always a plethora of things that need to be attended to: IEP and treatment plan meetings, report card conferences, doctors’ appointments, ED visits—my son fractured his wrist when a kid two years younger but about 40 lbs heavier than him fell on it, acupuncture to try and keep my chi in line, birthdays (30’s the new 20), autism awareness events…
But I’m happy to be able to put another semester behind me, and that I’m one step closer to December 2011!
Posted in Nursing school | Tagged: Nursing school, nursing student | 1 Comment »
Posted by isntshelovlei on April 9, 2011
Today was the last day of clinical for the semester—hallelujah. No offense, but I was CICU’d out. I felt like I had the same patient everyday—afib, CHF, afib, MI, afib…
My clinical instructor assigned us two patients as usual (the nurses on that floor only have three themselves). I’d been working with the same nurse for the past couple weeks so I came in and let her know which two of her three patients I’d been assigned to. She automatically said, “Oh no, I don’t want you to have 47.” I assumed the patient was a “difficult” one (which usually meant interpersonally challenged) so I didn’t resist or even blink—it was the last day and besides that guy had about three pages of meds anyway. The nurse said he was just really mean and she didn’t want me to have to deal with that all day. Trust and believe, I’ve already been called my share of four- and five-letter words by patients so it really didn’t make any difference to me. But they ended up giving me her other patient—who ALSO had three pages of meds (cringe)! But hey, such is life…
So I’m going about my merry day, and “47” needed a bladder scan so the nurse ask me if I had ever done one (no) and if I wanted to watch (sure). We go in and she starts doing the scan—the guy’s condom cath was bone dry but he had about 650 mL being held hostage in the confines of his bladder. She told/reminded him that he’d had two accidents yesterday and that she needed him to ring the call bell when he needed to go. He rolled his eyes and told her he had been ringing the call bell, but “they” take too long to come (which sadly, I could believe). She kinda laughs and replies “Well, we’re busy.” Love her to death, but I didn’t think that was the most therapeutic response she could have given him but I kept a straight face. “47” asked her for some ginger ale and ice. While she finished up with his urine and left, I went to the pantry. I came back with a cup of ice and a diet ginger ale—he told me it was too much ice. So I said okay and went and dumped some in the sink—”how about now?” He said it was fine. I needed to raise his head of bed but knew that would cause him discomfort so I told him I would go slow and for him to tell me when to stop. “Is that too much?” I asked. I had to keep asking him to repeat himself because he didn’t talk very loud and I didn’t understand what he was saying. Meanwhile, the housekeeping guy was in there cleaning the room and I could feel him watching me—I guess he was waiting for me to lose my patience as I went back and forth with the patient nitpicking over this and that. I cracked open the can and poured the ginger ale over the ice and handed “47” the cup. He sipped. “What’s your origin?” he asked. Again, I wasn’t sure what he’d said and asked him to repeat it for me. “Where are you from?” I assumed he was asking about my nationality so told him I was from “here”—that I was born in Florida. “You speak so soft. But these nurses, they yell at me.” “I do ring the bell,” he continued, “but they don’t come for 15, 20 minutes sometimes. It’s too long.” I nodded, and apologized for his experience. He continued to talk, telling me how he had 2000 people working under him and how he had never been spoken to the way he has been spoken to in the hospital. He told me about how his brother was taking over the family business now that he was sick. I stayed and listened to his story. His nurse came in and asked if I was okay—I’m sure she was wondering why I was still in there. I said that I was. Clearly he wanted someone to listen, and I had the time. Usually I have all of my assessments and morning meds done by 9:30am anyway.
But I didn’t see the “mean” patient everyone else saw (and therefore wanted nothing to do with). The man was sick. And he was in pain. And he had been retaining almost 700 mLs of urine before being straight-cathed—you’d be a little irritable yourself. But all it took was for someone to listen, to give him a few extra minutes of attention, for him to mellow out. I realize that nursing staffing levels (and the insane amount of documentation) oftentimes makes it difficult for nurses to spend more time at the bedside, but this is something we need to work on—it can really make a difference in the quality of patient care. For a little food for thought, head on over to NurseTogether and check out Sue Heacocks’ article, Bedside Manners 101.
Posted in Nursing school | Tagged: bedside, manner, Nursing, Nursing school, nursing student, quality of care | 4 Comments »
Posted by isntshelovlei on March 31, 2011
So I think I offended some with my tweet about people who study up until the second the scantron hits their desks.
It’s just part of my own personal test-taking philosophy I’ve acquired over the years. It consists of three things:
1) I don’t overstudy. I read what I’m supposed to read; I listen to my recorded lectures; and I review my powerpoints and notes. But I gave up some of my more neurotic studying habits. I no longer strategically position my notes on the steering wheel on the way to class so that I can take a glimpse or two at every red light or stop sign. And though I do review the morning/afternoon of the exam I don’t try to cram in the last few minutes while the scantrons are going out. What for? Whatever I don’t know at that point I’m not going to learn in the five minutes before the exam starts. At that point I’ve turned on my “it is what it is” switch. Woo-sah. And to be honest my grades have been better since I stopped driving myself into the ground. I’m more relaxed and I no longer stress-eat on test days. When you overstudy, if you don’t go in there and suffer a total brain fart (which sucks after all that extra effort), you’re overthinking the questions and second guessing yourself—all because you psyched yourself out. And so I don’t (anymore). There’s a lot of information to learn in nursing school and you do need to study. But you don’t need to overdo it.
2) I don’t sit and stare at test questions if I don’t know the answer. What for? The answer is not going to jump off the page waving its arms at you. Pick one and keep it moving. Narrow them down (with multiple choice there’s usually two you can toss out right off the top anyway) and eeny, meeny, miny, moe the rest if you have to. Though on a rare occasion if I’m really torn between two answers I will skip a question and come back to it—you just have to be very careful that you also skip it on the scantron sheet or that can lead to a whole other mess…
3) I never erase. Go with your gut. Usually when you change an answer, you had it right the first time.
I guess it also helps that I happen to be a good test taker. The Kaplan review course for instance that many people like to take before they take their boards (it’s actually required for my program) is actually less about content review and more about how to be a better test taker. It’s all about strategies for breaking down the questions and recognizing traps. I’ve already got that down. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even read the whole question most of the time (which is why it only takes me about 30 seconds per question when we’re allotted a minute and a half for each). Usually, half of the question is superfluous information you don’t need and was thrown in there to confuse you. I choose not be be distracted by the distractors. This is not to say I’m just guessing answers and getting lucky. You do need to have a solid knowledge base to be able to recognize trigger words/phrases and weed out the riff-raff. But hey, this is just what works for me. Different strokes for different folks…
Posted in Nursing school | Tagged: exam, Nursing school, nursing student, test-taking | 4 Comments »
Posted by isntshelovlei on March 15, 2011
As health care professionals and students we have all taken a CPR certification course. Every one to two years we have to take a renewal course.
But is it just something you do because you have to—to meet a job or maybe your clinical requirements? When and if the time came, would you be willing (and able) to use what you’ve learned?
Personally, I keep my pocket mask and even my course book in the glove compartment of my car—do you know where yours are? You never know when you might need them and my mind often flickers to the fact that they are there when I pass accident scenes during my comings and goings. Thankfully, I have never had to use that mask though I do remember once having to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on my own infant because some brilliant fool decided to give her a piece of hard candy. I don’t know if it was the years of CPR training or my mother’s instinct, but I acted automatically. Her color changed and she couldn’t get any air in, and couldn’t cough. I flipped her around almost reflexively on my forearm, head down over my thigh, gave her four blows to the back and out came that offending piece of confection. I then proceeded to annihilate the brilliant fool…
I am glad that has been the extent of my calls to duty and that I have not had to perform actual CPR. But have you ever really thought about what you’d do? When people ask on television shows “Is there a doctor in the house?” I always think that there are more than just those that raise their hand. These days people seem to not want to get involved for various reasons—like getting sued or even not being confident in their own skills…
Will you help that person choking while you’re out at a romantic dinner with your partner? What about your neighbor that collapses from cardiac arrest while shoveling snow? What if you found your own child face down in the swimming pool? Anyone can carry a card in their wallet, but when it really matters will you make it count?
I hope that I never have to use what I learn in those CPR courses, but I know that if need be, I’m ready and I will. But the fact of the matter is someone in the United States suffers from a cardiac arrest every two minutes, so you really never know when YOU may be the one called into action. Are you ready to save a life?
Posted in Health Care, Odds and Ends | Tagged: CPR, heimlich maneuver, nursing student, save a life | Leave a Comment »
Posted by isntshelovlei on February 27, 2011
As if there weren’t enough lingo, medical jargon, and unapproved abbreviations…enters “cabbage.” The first time I heard the expression was in Nursing Research. It really didn’t register at first as I usually tune 3/4 of that three-hour lecture out anyway (don’t even get me started on that class). The second time was probably in post conference (we’re in the CICU this rotation). “Patient had a ‘cabbage’ times two…” This time my antenna went up—patient had a what?!? But there’s a silent rule among nursing students in post conference—short, sweet answers only and don’t ask a lot of questions so we can get the hell out of there. If you really need to talk or ask the clinical instructor something stay afterwards and do it on your own time. So I kept my puzzlement to myself for the time being, “just smile and nod” as they say. It wasn’t until I was catching up on my reading for the week (we just so happened to be doing cardiac) that I had an epiphany.
Come to find out, “cabbage” is “short” for CABG, or coronary artery bypass graft. Well color me unimpressed. It’s not even a true acronym. CABG is actually an initialism; those four letters do not in fact form a word just because someone decided to pronounce them like one.
I’ll get off my English lesson soapbox now…
But next thing you know we’ll be calling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) “Alice” or saying patients with chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML) have “Camel”—I wonder with one hump or two?…
Posted in Nursing school | Tagged: abbreviations, acronyms, cabbage, CABG, cardiac, coronary artery bypass graft, jargon, lingo, Nursing school, nursing student | 3 Comments »