Monday, September 17, 2012

NCLEX & Such

Hi. I'm an RN. I started work today. I have some weird orientation thing tomorrow for 8 hours, then am thrown right into night-shift this weekend, working both Friday & Saturday night, 7-7. I also got my schedule for the next 3 months. I work Thanksgiving night and Christmas night. I kind of love that I'm going into this whole working-world life completely balls to the wall. Let's see if I'm still saying that after a few night shifts ;)

About NCLEX (aka, any one who is not going to be an RN, the rest of this post is boring), for those who will be taking it in the future, because I know this is a source of great stress and everyone wants to hear everyone's take on the exam. One can never have too many opinions regarding that blasted test, or so it seems. Anyway, I studied for 6 days. Yes, 6- where I actually paid attention to what I was reading and thinking through the questions and answers, not just guessing to get the answer. I'm thinking it's probably pretty obvious to anyone who knows what I went through for the past year that I work best under pressure. Sure, I'm a totally stressed out spaz ball, but I perform very well. I probably studied 9-11 hours each day, doing as many practice questions as I could, which ended up being around 3000 total.

I don't know what other nursing programs use, but my program required us to do various ATI exams throughout the program. I hate ATI. HATE IT. I took a 3 day ATI prep course the week between finishing school and graduation. Again, I HATE ATI. Because of this profound hatred, I had no desire to do anything with ATI in regards to studying. I did one comprehensive exam of 150 questions during my 6 days of studying, but that was it.

The resources I used are as follows: Saunders NCLEX RN Review, 5th edition. This book is amazing. It basically breaks down every system of the body, both adult and pediatric, and gives you info on what you really need to know. Then there are practice quizzes at the end of each section. Furthermore, the book comes with a CD that has 4300+ practice questions, which you can do in quiz mode (10 questions at a time), or study mode (receive rationales immediately). This is pretty much the main resource I used.

I also (briefly) used the 2011-2012 Kaplan NCLEX RN Review. The first 100 pages are tips about how to approach NCLEX and the style of questions asked. These tips were invaluable. I cannot stress how important knowing how to read and answer an NCLEX style question is. This text also has a CD of 150 questions (maybe more, maybe less... I can't remember exactly) that are formated exactly like the NCLEX exam is (meaning the screen for the questions on the CD is comparable to the screen of NCLEX), which was nice.

The other thing that saved my tail was stumbling upon an board that had infection control precautions mnemonics listed. I never learned these mnemonics in school and I am SO glad I found them the morning of the exam because I'm 95% sure without them, I would have failed. Let's just say that apparently knowing what illnesses require what kinds of isolation is very important in the nursing world. Just google "infection control mnemonics" and links to several posts on that message board should come up.

Now, obviously my method of studying is not right for everyone. I didn't eat much the week prior and sleeping was also a bit of a struggle. I also think I burned myself out on doing so many questions in such a short amount of time and I'm not entirely sure I could do it again if I had to, but I just knew I wouldn't take it seriously had I spent the entire month post-grad and pre-exam studying. I needed the pressure to make me crack down. For the actual exam, I ended up having 150 something questions (minimum is 75, max is 265) and it took me 3 hours (max time is 6 hours). I was praying for it to stop. I was so ADD by that point and sick and tired of answering questions, but at the same time I knew every new question meant I was still in the game, so I made sure to read carefully and think logically. When it shut off, I immediately felt a sigh of relief, like "It's over! I know I passed!" Yea, that feeling lasted all of 5 minutes.

Indiana has been posting results very quickly. All of my friends found out within 30 minutes-2 hours of testing. I found out 16 hours after I finished... likely because I finished at 430 and the office responsible for licensing closes at 5. It was hell waiting, but my point is, if other states are as efficient as IN is, don't pay the fee to have your results expedited and don't believe it when they tell you your results won't be posted for a minimum of 48 hours (although the time of year that I took my exam may have something to do with it, since I'm assuming most May grads have already taken it). Lastly, because I knew that I wouldn't sleep well until I had some inkling of an idea of how I did, there is a trick on the Pearson Vue website that you can try after you finish the exam. If you log in and try to register to take NCLEX and a pop up comes up that says something like, "Our records indicate... contact... you cannot register at this time," it likely means that you passed. If it processes your request and takes you to the credit card page, you may have failed (but I know of someone who this happened to and she passed).

So to all of you taking NCLEX in the future, my best advice is to do practice questions and have a clear understanding of how to approach NCLEX style questions. Knowing specifics about a million different diseases really is not necessary. I'm a terrible test taker; always have been, always will be. If I can pass on the first try, trust me, any one can, as long as you put in the effort. And then you get to add RN to the end of your name and do a little happy dance every time you see it because you know that you NEVER have to take NCLEX again!

Hope this helps at least one person out there :)


Marianne Fancypants, RN

P.S. I have 9 million other NCLEX review books, flash cards, and a board game. If anyone wants them, I'll sell everything (except the Saunders book) to you for $25 plus shipping costs. There's well over $100 worth of materials sitting in my room and I will never need it again. Registered & Protected

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I love that word. I love how it has a standard, everyday definition found in Webster's, but also takes on so many different meanings, depending on the individual. The definition is as evolving as the process itself.

For me, as many of you know, life has been on the fast track for the better part of the past year. However, that chapter has closed and I am now starting a new one. Here's a little update on my life as of late.

On August 11, 2012, myself and 17 of my new brothers and sisters graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University. The 11 months of school it took to complete that degree were easily the hardest 11 months of my life. There were meltdowns, tears, illness caused by stress, and feelings of being stupid and incompetent. There were also lots of laughs, amazing friendships formed, and patient stories that not only reaffirmed my love for the profession of nursing, but also gave me a better appreciation for life.

The whole gang. Thank God for these people, I'm not sure I could have survived without them.

I do not think there are enough words to describe how elated I am to be finished with school. I have been enrolled in college for 7 years. SEVEN YEARS. I cannot believe I never have to write another pointless paper, read 2191230 pages, or spend 20 hours studying 9 chapters of material for a 50 question exam. It still does not seem real. Grad school is not completely out of the question, but if I do get my master's someday, it will be several years from now... and only if my workplace offers to pay for it.

I KNOW I could not have survived without this girl. I've never laughed so much with anyone in my life. Sister from another mister.

On September 17, I begin my career as an RN and will be working night shift on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in which I volunteered for over 2 years. I am so blessed to have been offered this highly sought after job, especially as a new graduate, and am so thankful for the nurses on the unit who put in a good word for me. This job will be the perfect transition for me as I am already familiar with the unit and the majority of the people who work there, so the fear that usually comes with unfamiliarity won't be as strong.

I am taking NCLEX, the state boards to become an RN, in a couple weeks. I am terrified of this exam. So much is riding on it and I am not the greatest test taker. I will likely spend the next couple weeks doing practice questions around the clock, so if you could say some prayers that the exam goes well, I would greatly appreciate it.

In non-school related news, I have moved back in to my parents' house. So far, so good. I've only been here a couple weeks, and one of those weeks I was on vacation with a friend, so I really haven't been here much. I really can't complain though- I live rent free, my food is paid for, I have my own bedroom and bathroom, and paradise is in my backyard. Definitely fortunate enough to have parent's who allow their adult child to live with them.

Last week my friend Rosh and I went on a Southern Caribbean cruise. We went to San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, & St. Maarten. It was a nice getaway and exactly what I needed, but we spent the week following Tropical Storm Issac, so the weather was less than ideal. Nonetheless, at the end of the day I was on vacation in a tropical climate, so it was lovely. And for inquiring minds, of those islands visited, I'd go back to St. Thomas (you may remember I was there March 2011), St. Kitts, & St. Maarten. I'd skip Puerto Rico, Barbados, and St. Lucia (even though the ziplining I did on St. Lucia was so much fun).

So that's that. More changes are probably on the horizon, but those will make themselves known in due time. For now, I'm pretty content. I'm excited to finally start my adult life and see what the future holds for me. Registered & Protected

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Changes on the Horizon

A few weeks ago I interviewed for an RN job on the neonatal intensive care unit that I volunteered at for over 2 years.

Yesterday I was offered the job, contingent on me passing NCLEX.


I haven't accepted yet (and my dreams of moving to LA are still very real) and I have until I pass boards to formally accept, but the offer is there and, for all intents and purposes, I have a job 6 weeks before I graduate, which has me feeling all kinds of happy, blessed, and flattered. It's just crazy to me that everything I have worked so hard for for essentially 3 years is coming to an end and a new beginning is on the horizon. Truly is amazing how ANY dream can come true, all it takes is a little imagination, and a lot of resilience, dedication, and hard work. Registered & Protected

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Procrastination at its finest

Well hello there.

If there was an award for most sporadic blogger, I'd probably win, right?

C'est la vie.

Today was the first day of the new term and, after 8 hours of class, the last thing I want to do is work on homework, so I decided I'd post a little update. Apologies in advance for the angry, unpleasant tone in which this post may or may not take.

The glorious news? I am finished with school in 67 days. Less than 10 weeks.

This is how I feel about that:

However, I may need a stint in rehab after these next {less than} 10 weeks because this shit is no joke and the intensity has been amplified 100 fold the past month, with no signs of ever slowing down, and my friend Jac and I have already decided that a nightly brew or 5 will help to take the edge off.

I completed 4 credits in 10 days in May, which is now a total blur. Then I spent 4 days in Northern Indiana/Michigan "working" with Amish people. That was a total bust. I was with a midwife and told I'd likely see a birth in the 42 clinical hours I spent with her. I ended up only seeing 10 patients over the course of two days, and no patients the last two days. The last day I spent scrubbing floors. Needless to say, it sucked. But the 10 patients I did see were incredibly friendly and fascinating and confused by me. The idea of a 25-year-old female without a husband or children was completely baffling to them. They were also caught off guard by my height. Amish people are short, yo.

Side note: Amish children may be the most precious children ever. They were all so damn cute and I just wanted to steal them. I was pretty tempted, too. I mean, they all have a good sized brood, surely they wouldn't mind having one taken off their hands, right? ;)

Now I'm in Community Health Nursing and Nursing Leadership & Management. I have class Tuesday 8-7 and Wednesday 8-5. Then clinical hours I have yet to figure out, but each class has to total 84 a piece. By June 28th. Fun times. I'll be shadowing at the NICU I volunteered at this Friday and following Monday, so that will cover 22 of my clinical hours.

Speaking of the NICU, I have a job interview this Thursday to work on the unit as an RN as soon as I graduate and pass boards :) I hadn't really planned on applying there, but, long story short, there was an opening, the manager asked me to apply, and here I am. I'm also submitting my resume to the manager at the peds unit I shadowed on in November.

I still plan on applying to two residency programs in LA, but neither starts until March, so the earliest I'd move out there is February, and being unemployed in Indiana for 6 months just isn't an option, hence the pursuit to employment in Indy.

Oh, I also turned 25 recently, and, shockingly, am excited about it. Before school started, I swore I'd have a quarter-life crisis by the end of 2012, but I have changed a lot in the past 10 months of school. I definitely have a lot to look forward to in the next year: graduating, becoming an RN, employment, moving, being totally independent, having fun being single, etc. I'm just pretty content with almost every aspect of my life and have embraced being 25 and am trying to enjoy the freedom while I can.

So that's that. Another lame post brought to you by yours truly. Hope everyone is doing well, I probably won't peak in again until I graduate, if I'm being honest, so thanks for bearing with me these last 10 months. Although I do want to write a top 10 nursing school survival tip post, so maybe I will peak in before August.... Either way, hopefully I get back into the blogging groove once I have a normal life again.

Xoxo, Registered & Protected

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Is Anyone Out There?

A couple people recently reminded me that I have a (pathetic excuse for a) blog and seeing that I haven't posted anything in over 2 months, I thought I should maybe peak in and say hi.


Life is pretty same ole same ole, and really, do any of y'all (assuming at least a few people haven't forgotten about me) actually care about the ins and outs of nursing school? Heck, I'm not always sure that I even care. Just a real quick update:

I am officially on the downward slope of school. As of the end of February, I am 50% finished with nursing school and I now have less than 5 months left until graduation. I made Dean's List in the fall (GPA over 3.5) and am hoping for that again the spring, but my grades last term weren't my best (and if I could verbalize why and know without a shadow of a doubt that no one from my school was reading, I would. But I'm not willing to take that chance. Let's just say every one in my program was ready to commit several crimes by the end of that term.). All A's and B's, but still, not my best.

I went to Florida for 9 glorious days at the beginning of March. I literally did nothing for school, did not even think about school, and just sat on the beach the whole time. Well, except that morning I went to the set of Spring Breakers, a new movie with Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Vanessa Hudgens. Saw all three of them, talked to Selena's bodyguard and makeup artist, but nothing too exciting. But anyway, spring break was amazing and exactly what I needed and when I got home people asked if I was Cuban. Win.

While in Florida I got an email from my cousin asking if I wanted to do a cruise with her in August for dirtier than dirt cheap, thus continuing my tradition of planning my next trip before the first one is even over.

The weather in Indiana has been UNREAL. I'm talking high 70s and 80s with total sunshine for two weeks. As I write this, it's 85 and sunny and I'm laying out. I think God knew I couldn't handle a terrible winter AND nursing school at the same time, so for that I am beyond grateful for the mild winter and early summer-like weather.

Post grad plans: Taking NCLEX as soon as I feel ready, which is hopefully within a week or two of graduation (before August 24th). I'm applying to an RN residency program in Los Angeles to work in pediatric oncology. Apparently it's an incredibly competitive program to get into, but IF I am accepted, I'd be moving out there in February and starting in March. I know whatever is meant to be will be... but if this could just be something that is meant to be, that'd be great.

I turn 25 in exactly two months, and, surprisingly, I'm not freaking out. I'm just enjoying life as much as I can right now and taking it all in stride. I think my patients have really helped me to get a better perspective on things.

My clinicals this term are on the mental health unit at the VA and another rotation at a nursing home. Two things I've learned: mental health patients have no filter (apparently I look like a very large guy), and I will NEVER put my parent's in a nursing home. Ever. I don't care what I have to give up in order to take care of them, I refuse to let them die that way.

In May I'm spending a week working with a midwife who provides care to pregnant Amish women. I cannot even put into words how excited I am for this experience.

I think that's about all there is to say. Sorry for going so MIA; I really hope someday sooner rather than later I get back into the blogging habit and have some more entertaining things to share besides that crap (literally and figuratively) that comes along with nursing school.

XOXO, Registered & Protected

Monday, January 9, 2012

This is how I feel

About going back to school tomorrow:

57 days until spring break. Fifty. Seven. Days.

Have a good week, y'all. I have clinical orientation 7:30-12 tomorrow, Wednesday class 7:50-1:50, then clinical 3-8 an hour away, and then clinical 6am-4pm Thursday at the same hospital as Wednesday. Welcome back. Registered & Protected

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Goals

It's hard to believe that 2011 is over already. The year went so fast and seems like a bit of a blur. Of course, the biggest event that happened to me in 2011 was getting accepted to and starting nursing school. Actually, that's really the only noteworthy thing that happened in 2011 haha. Here's to hoping 2012 is a little bit more memorable!

Goals for 2012:

  • Graduate nursing school
  • Pass NCLEX on the first try and become an RN
  • Get a job, preferably in peds
  • Start paying off my student loans
  • Take a trip with some friends (sometime after October, ideally for NYE)
  • Get healthy. This is something I'm sick of saying I'll do but fail at. I need to lose a good amount of weight so I am better physically and mentally.
  • Get myself out into the dating world. Although I say that and at the same time, I don't want a reason to stay in Indy any longer than I have to haha.
  • Start saving money for my future.
  • Not have a quarter life crisis. I am reallllllly struggling with the fact that I turn 25 in less than 5 months.
I graduate in August and plan to take an NCLEX prep class right after, with the hopes of being ready for NCLEX by the end of September. My original plan was to move back to my parents' house in August and stay for a few months, until I get on my feet, then move out after the first of the year. After some thinking though, I now plan on staying at my parents' until the end of 2013. My plan since before I got into school was to work for a year and then work as a travel nurse for a year, so at the start of 2014 I'd like to start my first stint in a new city. While I am more than eager to be out on my own sooner rather than later, living at home for the year that I plan on working in Indy will allow me to save a lot of money and pay off some of my debts. Plus, it doesn't make sense to move home in August, move out in January, then move my stuff again a year later. And then move it again a year after that. Travel nurses work with an agency to get signed on for a 13-week contract in a city the nurse chooses. Ideally, I'd do contracts in Hawaii, NYC, and LA, but that's two years away, so who knows what will happen. But that's today's plan, which I'm sure God is up there hearing and laughing at.

So that's what I hope happens in the next 362 days, which seems pretty realistic to me. What are some of your hopes and goals for the new year? Registered & Protected
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