Last week I found a quiet table in the unvisited corner of Starbuck’s, where I spent hours answering hundreds (maybe up to a thousand), questions in preparation for the state boards; the big NCLEX-RN exam. This is the exam that would decide my future, and wether or not I’d get to practice as a nurse. I did question after question for 2 days straight, while sipping on a cappuccino and eating snacks and oatmeal. I’m not sure it helped me prepare for NCLEX really. Nothing is like NCLEX!
Saturday 8am was the set appointment for the exam. I went to bed at a decent hour Friday night, but prior to that, I shut down my brain for questioning around 6 pm.
After many practice questions on Friday, the girls and I visited the mall for a bit, and then in the early evening Doug and I sat on the dock to unwind from the day. The wind was strong, and the water so beautiful. The beauty and serenity were exactly what I needed, and it helped take my mind off the anxiety of taking a really important exam. Doug made me a beautiful dinner, comfort food; meatballs with a tomato compote over a bed of risotto. Of course I had a glass of wine to help unwind.
Saturday morning I was up early, around 6 am. My friend Sam and I exchanged good luck texts, as we both prepared for the big day. Her exam was at the same time, but in another location in town. Then after some fooling around on FB (to get my mind off the exam), I headed to Starbuck’s for my cappuccino. I was welcomed with hugs and “good luck, you’ll do great!” cheers from my early bird friends, and barista’s. The hugs and well wishes brought about a positive and excited feeling inside of me, and I was then ready to attack the NCLEX-RN.
I arrived at the testing center almost an hour early. There were about 6 very nervous test takers waiting in the lobby when I arrived, and only a minute after I arrived, we were escorted by the “test keeper” to the 3rd floor, where the testing center was located. I recognized a tech that I had met during my clinical rotations, and we nervously hugged and wished each other well. Then each one of us waited in this small waiting room to be called up to the desk, in order of the number we held in our hand. One by one we went through a process of palm printing, and then a mug shot before we were handed a key to a locker where we stored personal belongings. I was number 6, but it felt more like # 60.
After an explanation of the exam and rules for toileting, I was escorted to a computer surrounded by a cubicle, with a pair of headphones atop the desk.
I had to go through a series of practice questions before I was able to hit the start button.
Then it was time.
My palms were clammy and wet, and my breathing rapid. But, I took one question as it came, and made a point to answer each question as though it was the only question I’d have to answer in order to pass. For the questions I didn’t know the answer to, or those questions in which I had never heard of the drug, or disease, I made a best guess based on how the answers sounded, and quickly moved on. I got a lot of “select all that apply” questions. Somehow, even though I never felt secure in any of my answers, I forced myeslf to hit the “next —> ” button, and I felt ok about it. I stayed positive and never let myself think I was failing. It was ok. I never changed an answer and I tried to not doubt myself. I spent an hour answering questions, and when I reached question number 75 (the minimum required), I held my breath and hoped that when I pressed the “next —->” button, the screen would go black. When I proceeded to #76, the screen went blue, and the test was done. Prior to taking the exam, I’d heard rumors that if you only had to answer 75 questions, it was because you either did so poorly that they wouldn’t let you continue, or that you were component and could stop at the minimum. I hoped and prayed that I was cut off for the latter reason. I felt a sort of peace about the whole thing, although I didn’t feel confident about any more then 3-4 questions out of the 75 questions I answered.
I drove home talking with my friend Sam, who also got stopped at 75 questions. We reassured one another that we passed, rationalizing our confidence, and the fact that we only had 75 questions.
The rest of the day I carried with me 2 strong emotions; I was thankful to be done, and anxious to know if I’d passed. It was exciting to be done as well.
I took the girls to a summer pool party, and enjoyed time with friends and sangria to take my mind off it. Then Doug and I spent the afternoon sitting on the dock and napping, before we headed downtown for dinner as a family.
Sunday, I obsessively checked my e-mail and the Florida Board of Nursing website, to see if I might have any news. Nothing. I tried to spend the day enjoying the day with my family, and I did, but the thought of “did or did I not pass” always lingered in my thoughts.
Monday I headed to work, and about mid-morning, after my 5th time of checking for results, my friend Sam texted to tell me I could pay $8 for quick results. With the business of my day at the hospital, and the fact that I had forgotten my password on the testing site, it was over 2 hours before I could get onto a computer and view with results. When I finally came to the screen in which I could hit submit with my $8, two of my nurse friends stood looking over my shoulder…. and then I hit submit, and came to this screen:
I held in my screams but not my smile, and my friends gave me big hugs and a congrats. Then I ran to tell my manager. She was thrilled, and sent me off to call Team Resources in order to schedule the RN orientation.
It was a great day as I walked around the unit with a huge smile, telling anyone I thought may care. My friends are awesome. Everyone was so excited for me, because the nurses who have been there and done that realize all that goes into becoming a nurse. It’s a rite of passage. Some of them even told a few of the patients. Between the nurses, tech’s and patients, I was overwhelmed by the love, hugs and congrats. I came home to love from Doug and the girls hugging me with big smiles as they simultaneously said “congrats mom.”
I’m thrilled to be here!!! It’s been a long journey, but so worth it!! This is my dream and my passion, and I’m still in shock that I’m officially an R.N.
I’m honored to be a nurse and honored to care for you and your loved ones!!
Lorena Webber R.N.