Posted in fear of the unknown

NCLEX Shmenclex (2016)


Well, gang. I did it. I passed the NCLEX on my first try in 75 questions! I am now the proud owner of a legit registered nurse license here in my state. I’m not going to lie to any of you. I studied for approximately 1 month. That test was not easy by any means. I had no idea how I was doing the entire time I was taking it. I didn’t know if I was right or wrong. And when it shut down after 75 questions, I was 100% sure I bombed it.

Let me put it this way: this test must be written by a bunch of sadistic nurses who gather together in a room and cackle at the many ways they can make new nursing grads (who have just spent 2 – 4 years preparing for this very moment) squirm. The questions are hard…very hard. And not because what they’re actually asking you is hard (What would you do first? How would you properly teach this to a client?), but because you have no idea exactly what the answers are trying to say. You legit answer these questions off of hopes and dreams.

At one point in my exam, I was making this exact face after I clicked the “next” button for the next dose of inevitable doom and saw my answer choices:


So, how did I do it? How did I defeat the hot mess train that is the NCLEX? What did I do?

First of all, I’m ambitious, but I’m not so damn ambitious that I feel like throwing $400 around like it’s chump change. In other words, I did not do the Kaplan course. I had already been introduced to Kaplan through my previous degree and realized I spent way too much for someone to read to me and tell me I’m awesome. First, I can read. Second, duh, I’m awesome. I went instead for the $50 3 week NCSBN self-paced course. They are the same sadistic nurses who wrote the test, they probably know how to guide me to do their dark side. Their outlines of the material were BOMB and the questions they give you reminded me the most of NCLEX questions but on a softer scale. But, many times during the exam I felt I wouldn’t be able to study for any of these questions even if I had all the time in the world. They weren’t on content, they were on how good you could think through the questions using what you already know about nursing care.

I nabbed Lippincott’s Alternate Format Question book that was awesome for nailing SATA, math and exhibit questions. I also got my hands on the LaCharity Assignment, Prioritization and Delegation book that had some very helpful prioritization and delegation practice questions. The 2016 NCLEX Plan makes it pretty damn obvious that 20% of the exam is going to be on Management of Care. So, the day before the exam I spent a good bit of time just honing in on my prioritization, assignment and delegation skills. Was happy I did. Those questions were everywhere. Then I hit my old favorite, the interwebz, for some encouraging discussion board posts, uplifting YouTube videos and especially watched anyone who was taking the test for the second time. Having that insider info definitely helped me to prepare to go into that test like Rocky Balboa. Finally, I prayed — a lot. I had everybody praying. I even had praying mantis insects praying.

So, how did the day go?Well, I woke up feeling oddly excited about finally meeting the day that I would become an RN! I listened to Rihanna and Janet Jackson and danced naked in my bathroom while my husband was at work and my child was safely off to school. I showered, got dressed, and drove to the testing center. I walked in with nothing but my ID and my keys. I took a number, I read some rules and then I realized I forgot my snacks. So, I asked if I can go get my snacks. She said yes. I got my snacks. I put my stuff in a locker and I sat back down until my number was called. And then, like some Peanuts movie I have yet to see, they called my number in a slow waump-waump voice-style that I was convinced I was the only one hearing.

I sat down at that computer and my heart started beating out of my chest. Ugh. Where did these nerves come from??? I was ready for this!!! At about question 73, I told myself if this doesn’t turn off at 75, we’re OK with that. That means we’re still in the game. And, then, like some sort of beacon of hope -the test shut down after question 75. I was excited at first, and then I reflected back on the fact that I had NO idea what had just happened and I was terrified.

I then trolled the living daylights out of the internet for some trick to find out as soon as possible if I had passed. There’s one with a credit card involving $200.00. I contemplated it.

Luckily, my board of nursing doesn’t make you wait forever and a day. By the next morning I was the proud owner of a fantastic shiny new registered nurse license number and all hope was restored to the land. If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out in the comments section and I will be happy to answer them for you. Best of luck to anyone going after that NCLEX in the future!! You’ve got this!!!




Posted in being in nursing school, fear of the unknown

Graduation & Jobs


Well, gang. I did it. I graduated. I finished my 5th and final semester of nursing school and while part of me is really, really, excited, the other part of me is terrified. Let me start off by saying I was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society of nursing, and graduated with a 3.6 GPA. I was in the top 30% of my class. That impresses me, because God knows I had to work really hard to keep my head above water. It didn’t seem like anyone else needed to work nearly that hard to pull off the same grades, but, dammit, I did.

My hard work paid off. The last few weeks of nursing school were filled with evenings receiving award after award, going to scholarship banquets, award ceremonies and just overall recognition for being awesome. Before you roll your eyes at my mightier-than-thouness, please understand I say this with a heavy dose of disdain. I have no idea what to do with all of these awards. Do I frame them and make a wall of awesome? Do I use them to roll sushi on the particularly tough Monday afternoons? Do I stare at them and wish I was still in nursing school because now I have no idea what to do with myself? I mean, seriously? What do I do with these?

I thought about putting them on my resume, but I can’t imagine what prospective employers would want to do with knowing I attended the National Student Nurses’ Association convention and learned how to apply for this very job. I mean…seriously (I have to say that so far every employer has loved that)?


As I look back on the final year of nursing school and reflect on each of the accomplishments for which I was awarded, I am reminded of really happy moments that I know I will miss in the near future. I will miss my cohort. I will miss my faculty. I will miss knowing exactly what was coming up next. Now that I’m finished, there aren’t words all over my calendar anymore. They have been replaced with TV shows. I had to find something to do. So, like a good nursing student, I started job hunting.

I began applying for jobs in the early part of the final semester and landed 2 amazing offers. Both before I had even graduated or taken the NCLEX. One offer is located in our local healthcare system and the other in a very well known and cutting edge facility that anybody would be CRAZY to say no to. That is…unless, of course, you are me. Guys, I think I’m going to be that one crazy son of a bitch that unlike any other able bodied and clever human being, decides to work at the local healthcare facility over the 100 best places to work facility. Here’s why I’m crazy:

Option A: Local healthcare facility. 5 minutes from my home. Easily $10K less than Option B per year. Smaller, home-feeling, facility with access to Labor and Delivery (YAY!). 15 minutes from my son’s school. Across the street from my husband’s job. Staff is known to me. Director loves me (and I love her). Flexible hours.

Option B: 100 Best Places to Work facility: 25 – 35 minutes from my home. $10K more than Option A per year. Big. No L&D. 45 – 55 minutes from my son’s school. Unknown staff. Excellent resume builder. Doing same thing I would be doing in Option A. Hours not flexible as Option A.

I am so seriously struggling with this. I have been agonizing over this. I have exactly 24 hours to give my answer and I still don’t know what my answer will be. I feel a tremendous since of loyalty to Option A. But I know, on paper, Option B is the more clever choice. I wish like hell I had someone else to make this decision for me. I wish I could say that I’m enjoying my time away from school but all I am doing right now is agonizing over this potential career changer.

So, I’ve promised myself I would come back here and not only update the world on where I am at now, but also remind myself why I became a nurse. I became a nurse because I was extremely inspired by my Labor and Delivery nurses, lactation nurses and the OR team that worked my c-sections. I fell in love with the OR on the way, because I love the atmosphere of the OR, but my first love will always be babies. There are absolutely 0 babies at Option B. Additionally, how much is my family worth to me? The time spent in traffic driving for an hour only to get home in just enough time to watch my son fall asleep may not be worth it. At least not at this point in his life while he is so small.

Also, let’s think about this. Have you read my About section? You know that part where I say I have been “doing the latter for over 12 years”? About that: the reason I was in business for over 12 years is because of the golden carrot. The golden carrot was the big wad of cash that was dangling in front of my face all of the time. That fat wad of cash (and knowing I was working for Fortune 100 company) kept me from exploring who I was and working within my passion. MONEY and STATUS kept me a prisoner for so long. And here it was again, dangling in front of my face as if God is challenging me to say “Are you sure?”. I thought I was, God. I thought I was sure. And then you put this opportunity in front of me that people fight over. YES! I am sure. But, am I stupid?

Sigh. The good news is that it has put me in a position to ask Option A if they can do anything to match Option B. As a new grad, I gather this is absolutely unheard of so I’m not expecting much, but my recruiter absolutely understood my predicament. It’s difficult to choose between what you want to do and what money is trying to force you to do. I didn’t come to nursing for money. I came to nursing because I wanted to love what I did. I wanted to love it. That’s why I’m here. If I don’t love it, then why do it? I made great money in business. Great money. But, it didn’t fulfill me in the least bit. I want to be fulfilled.

In other news, I should probably mention that I just received my testing eligibility from the Board of Nursing and am waiting patiently on the ATT from PearsonVue. That makes things feel awfully real! Oh! And my classmate and I were the speakers at our Pinning Ceremony. It was a hoot!!

Wish me luck tomorrow as I pray for guidance towards the correct path. I’m accepting all good juju!!

Posted in being in nursing school, fear of the unknown

Bringing it all to a close


The first month of the last semester of nursing school is almost over (You may have to read that three more times to understand what I just said). I did a great job on my Exit HESI, and thank goodness I did, because I studied so so so hard for that thing.

This, coupled with my nothing-lower-than-a-B grades mean I get to choose a specialty for my final clinical rotation. I chose Labor and Delivery as my first choice, and the OR as my second choice. Having already spent 3 months in the OR over the summer, I’d like to give another specialty a try to help make the decision much easier when I leave school and become a full fledged nurse.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. I feel absolutely and completely torn. What the hell kind of nurse do I want to be? I love Labor and Delivery, and I love the Operating Room. Do I have to know right now? What if I pick the wrong thing? What if they don’t like me? I’ll be 33 years old when I graduate – not exactly a spring chicken, but not even a toe in the grave just yet. Does that mean I’ll have less time to switch teams once I do choose what kind of nurse I want to be? All good questions, sure, but are they pointless? Considering the fact that the job chooses where we get to be, and not our preferences, I think it’s a little pointless to fret like I am. Is it indecision, or is it fear of the med-surg floor that I can’t get over. Nothing about me wants to be a medical surgical nurse. Nothing. I know that sounds ridiculously spoiled to you seasoned nurses who did your time in the trenches before rising to the glory that is your preferred specialty. I totally get it. I know.

I learned an awful lot about med-surg in our clinical rotations. You know, things like I don’t want to do this, and I don’t want to do that – and man are these nurses miserable or what, and nobody respects their nurse manager. The patients are so sad to be here and the nurses don’t want to be here either. Skill wise I learned a lot, too, but it was grossly over shadowed by the horrowed experience of all those around me – and their constant complaining that they hated their jobs.

I feel too old to be miserable. I’ve already done the misery – that’s what brought me to nursing. I don’t want to do it again. I have a young family and I want to add another member to that family; if I have to be away from them, I want to love what I do. What’s wrong with that? I can hear my seasoned nurse friends telling me that if I want to be a nurse, I have to have the skills and the only way to get the skills is to do med-surg…but I disagree. I disagree because I believe in change and evolution. I think a new era of nursing is arising and I think we are seeing people struggle in specialties as new grads, or new transitions, when previously, you came into a specialty an absolute badass — and we can’t handle that it isn’t true anymore. The fumbly nurses are not only in med-surg anymore — they’re coming into your specialties and by the time they’re done with that specialty, they are absolute specialized badasses. I totally get it, seasoned nurse. I get it. Why does this new grad get to waltz right into what took me years to accomplish — and then do it being paid leaps and bounds more than I ever had when I started. I get that. I have that same feeling sitting in class with accelerated nursing students who just 2 semesters ago I was helping to interview to determine if they would get in to our School of Nursing. It’s called hating. I have to call myself out on this pretty frequently. It’s tough. So, I get it.

Not quite sure what I’m going to do about your feelings towards what I want for my life, though. It will be hard to know you don’t like me or are unhappy with my decisions, but that’s just it. These are my decisions to do with my life. I am going to try my damndest not to disappoint you, though, seasoned nurses. I’m going to try my damndest!!!

In other news, I have been looking into Graduate Nurse residency programs here in town and some of them are absolutely amazing. They’re going to be great to get rid of that culture shock when people are going through the same thing as you just out of school. I’m praying I get one of the specialties I’ve requested. I have some certifications I’m working on and hoping to have done before I graduate to make me an even better candidate. At the end of the day though, I just want to be happy – with a handful of coworkers I can call my friends and mentors. Is that too much for a girl to ask?