Posts filed under ‘nursing’


This week I’ve spent my time studying in bed while fighting a nasty cold.  I had ACLS (learning to run a code) class all day yesterday and the test today.


The test includes being the team leader during a practice code, then taking a written test on reading EKG’s and another written test about what to do during codes.  It’s pretty stressful with a lot to learn, but thankfully it was some what of a review for me since I had a quicker version of this class back in Cincinnati.

Now, heaven forbid I ever find myself the only person who is ACLS certified at the scene of a code I will know what to do.  Hopefully, if I don’t forget it all!


February 19, 2009 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

How I passed the NCLEX-RN

The two most popular posts on my blog have been one about Hillary Clinton and another about my experience taking the NCLEX.  Well, since the one thing the world doesn’t need more of is one more person blogging about politics, especially someone who hates politics.  I thought I would make another post about the NCLEX.  Sorry to those of you who could care less.

My first tip is for people trying to pick a nursing school.  Get on-line and look up their passing average for the NCLEX.  I think how well your school prepares you for the ultimate test has a lot to do with you passing.  I believe my school did an excellent job preparing me for the NCLEX.  In 2006 my school’s average rate was 93%.  I would love to know what it is now because they now require all students to take a practice HESI exam every 9 weeks.  I work with several girls who all went to the same school and none of them have passed boards after several tries.  They are all REALLY smart, but the school just did not prepare them for the NCLEX.

For those who are not required to take the HESI, let me clue you in.  It’s basicly a longer harder version of the NCLEX.  If you can pass the HESI you are supposed to be able to pass the NCLEX.  It is also on a computer and the questions are just as hard, if not harder.  I believe a full length HESI is around 300 questions.  We took a short version every 9 weeks at the end of each term.  We also had a full length HESI before graduation that we were required to pass before graduation.

My second tip is to practice, Practice, PRACTICE!!  We were required to buy this book for school.  It comes with a computer disk with practice questions on it.  We were required to do a certain number of practice questions while we were in school, and we had to get over 80% correct or we had to keep doing them over and over again.  The book is not broken down by subject, the point is to get your brain used to jumping from subject to subject.

This is the only book I studied from for the NCLEX.  After graduation I took this book everywhere.  To the dog park, training classes for work, on my lunch break from work.  Every spare minute I had I was doing practice questions.  At home I would put the CD in my laptop and do practice questions on commercial breaks while watching TV.  I would mute the TV and do questions until my show came back on.

The disk has several options.  You can break the questions down into subjects, or have them mixed together.  You can do one question at a time, meaning it tells you the correct answer as soon as you pick your answer.  You can take 10 question quizes and then get the answers at the end.  Or you can take 100 question tests.

I did a little bit of each.  I liked getting the answer as soon as I answered the questions because I would still be thinking about why I answered the question the way I did when the correct answer came up.  However, the 100 question test builds up your endurance.  After doing several of these 100 questions will fly by in no time.

For the most part I did tests with the subjects all mixed together.  But I also  did tests with questions from each section individually.  You can also choose to do every single practice question from each subject.  The most important one for this option is the prioritizing section.  There aren’t that many questions in that section on the disk, but it will teach you to think like the NCLEX people think.  Do them ALL!!  I promise it will help on test day.

That is what you need to pass the boards.  You don’t need to know everything word for word out of the text book.  You need to be able to pick out the most important part of the question and figure out what answer it is pointing too.

Almost EVERY SINGLE  QUESTION on the NCLEX exam was about something I had never even HEARD of before, let alone knew anything about.  It was all about knowing what they were looking for,, and what the question was trying to get me to think about.

Some big things that I and others have been tested on very strongly:

1. Stages of isolation.  I had a question wanting to know what kind of isolation I would put a patient with some plague I had never heard of before in.  Well, obviously if it has the word PLAGUE in it, it is bad.  They are in the strongest isolation possible.

2.  I had a TON of those mark all answers that are correct questions.  ICKKK!!  MAJOR ICCCKKK!!  I SUCK at these because I can always talk myself into marking them all.  You can pick all of the questions like these from the disk and do just them.  DO THEM ALL!!!  Out of the 75 quesitons I got on the NCLEX I had at least 7 of those dumb things.  My other advice on these, don’t spend too much time on them.  Just pick the answers that pop out at you as correct and move on.  That way you don’t talk yourself into marking them all.

3.  And of course, the lovely priority questions.  Yes, it’s true, there are tons of these.  Remember  your ABC’s, but also remember that sometimes ABC’s aren’t always what they are looking for.  If all of your patients are stable who do you see first??

4.  Oh, something else I had a lot of.  Study the Black, Red, Yellow, Green triage system.  I couldn’t find a great website about this, so hopefully you can find something better in your nursing books.

Three or Four days before boards cut back on studying and try to relax and take some time to let your brain rest.  Spend some time with your family, go see a funny movie, get out of the house.  I still did a few questions a day, but not hundreds a day like the weeks before.   Drive by the testing center the day before so you aren’t stressed about finding it the next morning.  Get a good nights sleep.  Wake up early so you don’t have to rush to get there.  The Sunday before my NCLEX I went to church and had an amazing experience.  I had been so stressed before then that I would almost retch every time I thought about the test.  At church this amazing peace swept over me and I just KNEW I was going to pass.  I hope you can have this feeling going into boards.

In the front of the book are tips on studying for boards and tips on what to look for in the questions.  I read through the tips on what to look for chapter the day before, just as a refresher.

Oh, and our school told us to take snacks and water to the test.  Don’t, you will have to lock everything up and can’t get back in your locker until the test is over.  Take the ear plugs they offer even if you think you won’t need them.  There were others in the room taking court recording tests, so people were typing a mile a minute all around me and it was distracting.

Let me know if you have any questions.  And GOOD LUCK!!!  I hope you will have the letters RN (or LPN) after your name soon!

June 4, 2008 at 10:48 pm 39 comments

I must be crazy

Yesterday I sent away for information about finishing my bachelors degree. I’ve requested information from NKU and UC. I have an appointment next month to tour NKU. Honey, are you reading this?? I forgot to tell you, I made a reservation for you to go with me if you want. :0) At the moment I’m more interested in NKU. It’s closer and a lot less traffic over there than trying to get to UC. Someone at work said “Why do you want to go back?” I was like “I’m stupid I guess.” I’m not really ready to go back. I’m still learning so much at work and attending classes at work to get some certificates that I need. But, I need to start researching and getting ready now if I want to start in the fall or next spring. I might be able to take some classes that I need at the junior college that I graduated from, it will depend on what I still need. I have most of my courses finished, just a couple prerequisites and then the nursing courses.

Speaking of learning at work. Isn’t it scary that I’m already training people?? I’ve had an orienty with me every day for the past week or so. Some days I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job of teaching them. Other days are so crazy and busy that they just run along behind me for the ride. I just try to tell them like everywhere some days are good and some days are bad. Of course our bad days usually mean that we’ve got one or more patients that should be in the ICU, but aren’t.

I wonder who we need to write to about getting a law passed to set nurse to patient ratios in Kentucky?? In California TCU nurses are not allowed to have more than four patients, even at night. On our floor we can have up to 5 during the day, 6 in the evening, and 8 at night. That is s0000 no safe. We’re considered a critical care floor, but I have to take care of 6 patients?? And that’s not just patient care. The evening is the worst time for getting slammed with admissions. So, I’m doing all of that paperwork, filing, signing off orders, putting information into the computer, printing care paths off, and trying to keep up with six critical patients. Plus we don’t have a charge nurse at that time to help with any of it. Sometimes we luck out and have a float nurse to help, but she has to help two different floors at once. So, we usually end up doing it on our own anyway.

OK, I need to get ready for work. Thanks for listening to me complain. Two more days of work and then LAS VEGAS!!! WOOHOO!!

February 19, 2008 at 6:12 am Leave a comment

Ahhh, exhaustion

I’m so glad I have the next two days off.  This was my third day in a row, so like 32 out of the past 50 hours I have worked.  I’m exhausted.  The three days actually have been pretty good.  Yesterday and today we had student nurses on the floor, which takes some of the stress off.  Today at 3:00 all of the students left, and all hell broke loose.  I got one admit, raising me to five patients.  When she got on the floor her family was already mad and anxious.  They had just had a death in the family, so they were all on edge and taking everything a little over the top, understandably.  Then an hour later I was informed that I was getting another new patient.  Thankfully she still hadn’t shown up when I left.  One of my patients was VERY sick and his family was very anxious, but nice.  Plus I had another patient pacing the halls and not happy with me because he wanted to go home, but needed cardiology to sign off on him.

So, I’m staying home in my PJs for the weeend, don’t try to call me in to work!

February 1, 2008 at 10:31 pm 1 comment

Job Search Update

I have a phone interview scheduled for Monday!  It’s for a day shift position at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which is where I really want to work.  I’m not in love with the floor I would be working on, but I could live with it.  And it would get my food in the door to move into a unit that I really want.  They have a high risk labor and delivery floor and I’m sure an awsome ER there, both of which I’m very interested in.  Can you tell that I love adrenalin rushing jobs???

November 30, 2007 at 10:52 am Leave a comment

Job Search Frustration

Why is it so hard to find a day shift job in the nursing world? I know that I was seriously lucky to get a day shift job straight out of school, but I took a job at a lower paying hospital to get it. I’m so glad that I did. I love my boss and everyone I work with. Now I’m on the search again and everything that I’m interested in and qualify for is a night shift job. The hospital that I REALLY want to work at has NO day shift jobs. I guess that’s because everyone else REALLY wants to work there too.

I’ve worked nights for over a year and my body never adjusted to the schedule. I fell asleep taking someones temperature one night. I don’t trust myself handing out medications while feeling like a zombie. And driving home? HA! I fell asleep driving almost every morning on my way home. I’m lucky I never killed myself or someone else. Plus, it sucks when all of your friends and family are out having fun while you are stuck trying to sleep or at work.

So, I’m sitting here applying for every day shift job I can find. Most hospitals in Nashville have no day shit jobs available at all. But, I just found a hospital that lists several. Do I give in and work nights for awhile to get into a hospital and unit that I really want?? Or do I go to a smaller hospital and unit that I’m not too crazy about to get day shift??

I guess we’ll see what happens…..

November 30, 2007 at 9:41 am Leave a comment

Lisa, you rock!

Lisa is my boss and she’s so amazing. Lisa was on vacation the week that I interviewed for my job, so I didn’t even meet her until I had already started. But, I felt comfortable taking the job because everyone I met while I interviewed raved about how amazing she was. I’m so glad I accepted the job hoping that they were right. I had to go into her office this week to tell her that I would be quiting and moving to Nashville. Instead of making me feel stupid for crying (like some of my past bosses) she passed over the tissue and told me to go ahead and cry, that she had been crying all morning from stress too. Then she told me that she would do anything she could to help me find a job, even take calls at home and on her cell phone from recruiters. She even offered to get a hold of a family member who is a nurse in Nashville to see if she could help me out. Then she gave me my review that she had ready because it’s that time of year. Every time I see her on the floor she tells me I’m doing an awesome job and my review stated the same. YEAH!! Too bad I won’t be around to see the raise I was supposed to get! Anyway, she is going to spruce up my review and give me a copy to take on interviews with me. I was so lucky to have Lisa as a boss for my first nursing job. She is hands down the best boss I have ever had and I’m sad to leave her floor. Hopefully my next boss will be at least half as good as her.

November 29, 2007 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

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