Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tales of the NCLEX... it REALLY is that scary!

As many of you know by now, either through reading this blog or spending more than five minutes with me, one of my most important life goals is to become a nurse. It hasn't always been an important life goal; in fact, it only came about three and a half years ago. I was in my very first semester at Washington State University, living in a dorm in Pullman where every other girl in the dorm was a pre-nursing major, except for me and my five roommates. I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life, and had declared "Business" as my major during the summer orientation at the university because it was fairly well-rounded as majors go. It was also in this time in my life that I was growing closer to God than I had ever been. I had joined a sorority, met some amazing people (both those who knew the Lord and those who didn't), and had seen God work in a very real way that living in a rather sheltered, white conservative Christian, upper-middle-class upbringing had never exposed me to. For the first time in my life, I was seeking the answer to "Who am I, and what was I created to do on this earth?" and coming up with no clear answer.

One cold snowy November morning, as I woke up, I heard God speak. This was one of two times in my life that I have heard and felt Him speak to me apart from His Word or through others. He simply told me "I created you to be a nurse". I remember laying there a long time, thinking about these words. I have learned that when God speaks to you in an unmistakable way, it's as if a fire has burned His words across your mind and heart, and you can not think about anything else. I thought about nothing else except being a nurse for the next few days, as I wandered from class to class, as I went to my academic advisor and withdrew from the Business program, and as I applied for the pre-nursing program. Within two days, I had my major completely changed and the coursework for my next four years laid out down to the class I had to take that summer in order to catch up with my graduating class. I had even called home and told my parents about this new direction in my life. I remember my mother being quite excited and supportive, but my father's remark of "Why am I spending all this money so you can learn to change bedpans?" would stick with me throughout the rest of my schooling.

To make a long story short, I'll catch you up to where we are in the present day. I managed to cram two full years of curriculum plus a Spanish minor into one and half years, was accepted into the nursing program, and graduated on May 9, 2008.

The final step in my quest to become a nurse was to take the NCLEX-RN, which stands for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. We nurses affectionately refer to this test as "the NCLEX", "Boards", or "The Devil's Child". It is a standardized test developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to determine competency in a registered nurse. The test is based on a computerized system where the computer determines a competency level and then gives you questions based on that level. If you answer correctly, each subsequent question increases in difficulty. If you answer incorrectly, the questions get easier. Once the computer determines you have met the passing competency level, the test ends by the computer screen going black. The minimum number of questions one can answer to pass is 75, and the maximum number is 265. Once you have answered a question, you cannot go back and review your answers.

Needless to say, I took the NCLEX today. I hit question 75 and the screen went black. And then I tried not to throw up. I won't be able to find out if I passed or not for a few days, so I'm just going to work on keeping my food down.

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