Tips for Passing the NCLEX

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Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

FINALLY! You’re done with nursing school and getting ready for the dreaded NCLEX exam. Congratulations! Or maybe you’re still in school and you’re just looking ahead. Smart! All of us who have been there send our sympathy for the stress and hard work ahead, but you can get through it! I remember anxiously waiting for my authorization to test and wondering what the hell I should do next. I winged it and luckily made it! You’ll do awesome.

Recently, some of my favorite ED techs graduated from nursing school and began to take their tests, so there has been a lot of NCLEX chatter amongst us. That made me think about my own experiences and the things I needed to know before my test. So here are some tips I recommend for you before you go.

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Questions, questions, questions!

Focus on doing NCLEX questions instead of studying information by itself. When doing so, you’ll learn while also mastering the way these questions are presented and how you’re expected to answer correctly. Sometimes, you know the information but the question itself can trick you into getting it wrong. Training yourself to analyze the questions properly will help you pick the correct answers when the time comes. After all, “the answer is on the page”!

DON’T overdo it!

Studying? Good. Nonstop studying and all consumption of your life with NCLEX material? BAD!!! Give yourself the breaks you need to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. Sometimes you have to take a step away from your study area to go do something else for a few hours. Think about the time of day that you function best (for me, it’s night time) and take that time for the bulk of your studying. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep so your brain is ready for all that studying you’ll be doing.

DO take a prep course before taking the test! 

I took the Hurst Review’s in-person course and also utilized their online resources for the bulk of my studying. This was in 2015 and I’m sure a few things have changed since then, but I thoroughly enjoyed and took a lot of information away from the use of their materials. You can find them here! Honestly, there are a ton of review programs and systems out there and I think that many of them are both useful and successful for students. Just talk to your friends, preceptors, and other people who have taken NCLEX and see which ones they liked best. Your school and teaching staff undoubtedly have their own suggestions as well.

Plan out the night before you test and your actual test day.

Plan for a restful night before your take the NCLEX. Don’t overload yourself with stress and studying. You know your stuff and you have to have faith in yourself at this point. The night before I tested, I studied a little bit, went out and soaked in the hot tub (I had to drive several hours away and opted to stay in a nice hotel room the night before), and went to bed early. I got up in the morning and had a healthy breakfast before heading off to my test. I felt nervous but at peace when I went. The same can’t be said for after the test, but I was good going in! Ha. Don’t stress yourself the f**k out with day-of-studying or go on an empty stomach – you’ll regret it! Anything you can do to reduce your stress, do it.

Basically, just take care of yourself, trust that you know what you’re going to need to know for the test, and that there will be some things you don’t have down to a complete science. But that’s okay! I have faith in you.

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What other suggestions have you heard or what advice would you add from your own experiences? I’d love to know how your test goes in the comments!

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How to Choose the Right Nurse Practitioner Program

 

Congratulations! You’ve decided to think about going to graduate school to become a Nurse Practitioner! Welcome to the party. When you set out to apply for graduate school and choose the right Nurse Practitioner (NP) program, it may not be long before you realize there are a freaking ton of options out there. There is a lot to consider and it is a decision that you shouldn’t rush. There are several highlights you should be sure to think about before applying.

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Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

  1. DNP or MSN?

There are so many programs out there. Some will do an RN (ASN) to Masters (MSN) track that can help you go through all the steps in between your first, most basic, nursing degree to a Masters. Other programs are from BSN to MSN, where you obtain your bachelor’s degree first wherever you’d like and then begin graduate school. Finally, some programs are a BSN to DNP track, which take you from the completion of your bachelor’s degree to a doctorate. The doctoral degree is going to take longer, while the BSN to MSN will be shorter. Also, what will your future job/career require in terms of degree? Will you need to be a DNP or will an MSN be sufficient?

  1. Acute Care or Family Medicine? Specialty?

It is really important for you to consider what you want to do when you finish school and are a practicing NP. A lot of people make the mistake of choosing the wrong type of program for what they want to do after school and they end up finding out really late in the game that they made the wrong choice. DON’T BE THIS PERSON!! Acute Care NPs are hospital focused and generally work in Emergency Department or Intensive Care Unit. You often have to have experience in a critical care area for these programs. Family Medicine, or Primary Care, focused NPs can work in a variety of settings. These are most often the outpatient setting, although I have seen and worked with many FNPs in the Emergency Department. FNPs have education on everyone throughout the lifespan, while Acute Care focuses on certain aspects of the population, like adults or geriatrics. If you want to be a specialized NP, such as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, you need to have the correct educational preparation.

  1. Lifestyle Factors

This one is a HUGE part of the decision-making process for what program you’ll apply to. Do you want to go to school full-time or part-time? Do you learn better in a self-taught and self-paced online environment, or is the brick and mortar classroom better for your learning? Something else to be considered is your dedication and available time for studying. Do you want to spend a lot of time studying or do you need something more manageable? If you don’t plan to put a lot of energy forth into studying, you should probably not go to NP school. Ha, but really. If studying 24/7 and cutting your work schedule back doesn’t sound totally amazing, I probably wouldn’t embark on getting into a CRNA program, for example.

  1. Cost

This is kind of a no-brainer. Some programs are going to be hella expensive while others more affordable. You might be paying for a name or it could be they provide more to students than other schools. Do your research and ask around with your nursing friends who are in grad school. Chances are, they’ll know someone at many of the schools you might be curious about or be attending themselves.

  1. ***Does the program find or help you find clinical preceptors?***

I put stars by this one because holy cow, this is a HUGE thing to consider in my eyes. I never realized or knew how hard it was going to be to find a preceptor for my four clinical rotations until I was already in too deep. I’m not alone in this feeling, either. Take plenty of time to weigh whether or not you’re okay with finding your own preceptor. If not, find a program that does it for you. They aren’t super plentiful, but they do exist out there.

What other tips or advice do you have, or have you heard from others regarding finding the right program? Good luck everyone!

Much love,

Just Ask the Nurse

Welcome to Just Ask the Nurse!

Thanks for joining me! I am so happy to meet you! My name is Kelly and I’m a Registered Nurse who works in a busy emergency Department in Orlando, FL. I’ve been a nurse since 2015 where I started on a Med/Tele unit. You can find out more about me in the “About Me” tab! I started this blog as a way to try and help others with some of the things I wish I would’ve known about nursing, nursing education, and life in general. I will be posting about a multitude of things that fall under those areas! Please stay in touch and stay tuned for more. 😉

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Lao Taufreddie-marriage-40251-unsplash.jpg