I remember the day I went to take the NCLEX. Two years of hard work and study all culminating in one exam. The sterile testing environment seemed like an appropriate place to start a career in healthcare. Was I nervous, of course! Becoming a nurse meant a lot to me and I think I would have been worried if I would not have had butterflies.
A mentor had told me to make sure I did not put myself in a situation that created more anxiety – such as being late or not being able to find the testing center. It may sound silly but I read the directions several times and printed out two hard copies. I double-checked that I had multiple forms of identification with me in case I lost one. My test was scheduled in a city two hours away from my home, so I traveled the night before so I knew I would be there, driving past the test center when I entered the city. My friends and I went to a funny movie the night before and laughed – releasing all the stress I had built up. In short, I made sure my T’s were crossed and my I’s dotted.
The test itself was pretty straightforward. Testing centers all have rules about what you can take in with you, which is pretty much nothing except for your ID. I only got 75 questions and then left. Once the exam started, I realized that I knew many of the “right” answers not from nursing lectures but from the clinical experience I had had in school. I was very thankful for all my preceptors when I left that day, feeling pretty good about my effort.
Then the wait began. Testing results took a little longer back then and I had not paid for any extra service to get results quicker. My friends from school and I would check online every day at the nursing board’s website to see if our names had shown up with licenses. At least that way we got it quicker than the mail. Much celebration ensued when I finally saw that number after my name. I was finally a nurse!
You will get through this part of your journey as well. Some of my future blogs will address tips and tricks that can help you if you freeze, cannot remember, or don’t know something on the test. Stay tuned, and please post a comment if you want me to address something in particular.