Sorry I've been MIA for the month of February. It's kinda been a whirl-wind! After moving 40 miles west from Chester to Shelby (Dusty's hometown) during the month of January, I finally began studying for my nursing boards (NCLEX) on January 27th. I signed up to take the test in Billings on February 20th, which gave me approximately 25 days to re-learn everything I've been taught in 2-1/2 years of intense schooling and training.
They tell you in nursing school to take the NCLEX as close to graduation as possible, preferably in early January, so you still have all the skills and knowledge from nursing school fresh in your mind. The fact I was taking the test in mid-to-late February had me slightly worried. Going on our honeymoon, the holidays, Dusty changing careers, me getting a new job and moving to Shelby caused to me to think of everything and anything besides nursing for the past two months.
The great thing about studying for the NCLEX is that you get to pay approximately $450 for a tutorial and study guide to take the test! Please note the sarcasm. Not only did we have to pay $300 to take the test, Dusty and I had to shell out big bucks to study for it too. Although, with over 3,000 practice questions and 30+ hours of lecture tutorials, it was well worth the money. I recommend Kaplan On-Demand to anyone who plans on taking their boards in the future.
My only criticism about Kaplan is that their practice exams really mess with your mind. After taking an 150 question practice exam, I would only score 64% and feel like a total failure. Dusty would ask me, "How did you do on the practice exam?" and I'd reply, "64%" and he would give me a look like Huh?!?!? Which was my thoughts exactly! I know this stuff, I got all A's and one B in nursing school...how could I be bombing these exams? The really messed up thing that really messes with your mind is that in NCLEX world, getting between 60-70% on the practice exams means you are going to pass your exam and you are actually doing really well! What the heck? This doesn't make any sense!
All of my nursing friends who already took the exam would tell me how well I was doing and I just couldn't believe them. I basically required daily reassurance from them that I wasn't going to fail to get me through studying 4-6 hours a day for the exam. Thank you Kelsie, Monique, Libby and Courtney! I miss you guys! I owe you big time!
When Wednesday, February 19th came rolling around, Dusty and I drove down to Billings with his parents to go take this dreadful exam and get it over with. The agriculture Mate Show was also in Billings that weekend, so we thought we would all make a trip of it since we were driving 5 hours anyways. The 24 hours before the exam were awful! I did everything in my power not to have a complete full-blown panic attack and throw up every 5 minutes. Poor Dusty felt so sorry for me and knew the stress I was under, and could do nothing to help me. I just needed to get this exam over with!
The next morning, after barely keeping a yogurt down, Dusty drove me to the test center at 7:30 since the exam started at 8:00 am. I was really surprised for how strict and intense they were at this test center. You had to lock up all your personal belongings, empty your pockets, no bracelets, and no gum! The gum was the only thing keeping me from tossing my cookies out of nervousness! Once you check in, you had to get your hands scanned, photo taken and then you are allowed to enter the testing room while being accompanied by the person proctoring the exam. Plus you are monitored with video and audio throughout the entire exam. The certainly don't mess around!
The next 90 minutes were an absolute blur. I completed the test in 90 questions, which could have meant I did really well or really bombed the exam, but I had no idea. I walked out of the test center sobbing because I felt like I completely bombed it. After taking 7-1/2 years of college to complete 2 bachelors degrees, I had never felt worse about an exam than I did that day. Dusty picked me up and asked how I did and I just completely fell apart in the car. The worst part is that they make you wait 48 hours to find out how you did. Cruel and unusual punishment!
So after 48 hours of dreading my test results, I found out I PASSED! I'm officially a Registered Nurse! I've been waiting for this moment for over 4 years now, and it's finally here.
I want to thank my husband, Dusty, who has been such a huge support to me over the past few years while I've been in school. He always had dinner ready for me the moment I walked in the door and rubbed my feet after long 12 hour shifts. He also let me practice skills on him too! The emotional support he gave me was also priceless. Nursing school is an interesting creature. I didn't find the actual tests, assignments and exams difficult compared to my Microbiology program, but the physical, emotional and mental challenges nursing school makes you endure are like nothing else. I couldn't have made it without him.
I also want to thank all of my family members for supporting me as well. My grandparents for getting me my first pair of scrubs, my cousin Ashley for my wrist watch I wear every day on the floor, my parents for getting me my first stethoscope, Dusty's parents for helping me through the anxiety that developed the last semester in school and everyone else who listened to me vent and tell really gross stories about my experiences. I also wouldn't have survived without my nursing friends and classmates. What a wonderful bunch of people to work alongside and learn with during the past 2-1/2 years. I miss you all so much already!
I could go on and on thanking everyone for what they did to get me through nursing school, but it would make this post extremely long! Lastly, I want to thank all of you readers and blog friends who have stuck by me over the past years while I blog in spurts about food and life. I wish I had stayed more consistent in my blogging over the years, but nursing school got in the way most of the time, so thanks for sticking around!
So what is up next for me now that I'm finally not in college anymore????
Dusty will be busy on the family farm and I will be starting my new job tomorrow at Marias Medical Center as a night-shift nurse! Meanwhile, Duke is still adorable and up to no good as usual!
Wish me luck, I'll keep you posted!