Saturday, May 19, 2007

How I Got My Nursing Exam Results

Back in the day we took nursing board exams in a gigantic conference room at the state capitol. There were thousands of us stuck in there for sessions held over two days. The tests were written. No computers then.

It was a total pain in the ass. None of this "the computer turns you off when you've answered enough questions to pass" nonsense. We gutted it out for entire days.

Bathroom trips were accompanied by an escort. No snacks or drinks allowed for four hours at a time. A stern old schoolmarm-type oversaw and sniffed over our every scratch and mark. In my memory she carried a stick or a switch, presumably to swat down an errant hand reaching for cribnotes or power-bars.

When the ordeal was over I drove home a few hours away and then...


Weeks turned into months. Finally the fateful day came when the mailman delivered to me what I'd been working towards for so many years: somebody else's nursing board results.

Someone who lived about forty miles away from me had my same name but a different middle initial and social-security number. They passed. I got their phone number from Information and called to give them the good news and to let them know I'd soon be forwarding them their exam results.

No, they didn't get mine.

I made a few more phone calls the next day and was told that my paperwork was also in the mail. No reassuring tones, no apologies. I got the feeling that the people I spoke to were honestly puzzled that I would call about such a trivial matter as sending NCLEX results to the wrong person, complete with personal information.

Before I got my results I had to mail the exam-administration company more money. Everybody did that year. They made us all fork over another benjamin after we'd already paid for and completed the test!

A few years later I received a letter inquiring about a suspension from a downstate hospital in which I'd never worked. That was also a case of mistaken identity. After some months it was all cleared up. I still have the paperwork in a filebox. You never know.

To "study" for the exam I did a couple pages of review questions several times a week. Almost every day. The questions are supposed to make you prioritize patient needs but that's just an excuse. Actually, a lot of them were just so poorly written you really couldn't tell what the fuck was even being asked. So I generally just concentrated on figuring out the kind of language I'd have to muddle through to make a decent guess.

Every student in my graduating class passed their boards the first try.

If the instructors had even suspected just a teeny bit that one of my fellow nursing students might not get by, they were axed months before. There were some that I thought would've been great to work with if they had just been helped along a little, but that wasn't how it worked.

Apparently it's more important for a nursing program to have a reputation for its graduates passing the boards on the first try than it is for the teachers to more fully address the perennial nation-wide nursing shortage by helping students.

My own little evening class section only had about fifteen students and three got tossed before the boards. The whole two-year rotation sent less than 70 graduates to the NCLEX exams, out of over 90 people that had entered the program.

One who was sent away was fresh out of highschool and had a little difficulty keeping up with the workload. Chop chop. She was a friend. I went skiing with her.

Another was a single mother working full-time while she went to school. It was painful for me to see her get shafted after more than three-and-a-half semesters of hard work. Very harsh, that. I'd offered to help her study but she'd have to get home to her kids.

The last was someone who had a previous career and four-year-degree in athletic training, and for some reason the instructors just hated his guts. I stayed away from him, even though he was a good guy.

Too bad. It's all for nothing anyways. The diploma and license just give you entrance to a job, and that's where we all learn everything, not in school. An apprenticeship-style nursing education would probably be quicker, better, and cheaper in getting nurses into the job markets than this antiquated and miserable nursing-school system we have now.


may said...

the phillipne boards was the same back in 1993 when i took it.

exactly the same as you described it, except probably for the extreme heat from the unairconditioned classrooms, and that we had to wait for THREE MONTHS for the results, and that it was not private, but in the major papers. so, if your name is not in the paper, you have to wait for the next exam, after six months.

LPN Programs San Mateo said...

Don't take tension, go ahead best of luck.

LPN Programs San Mateo said...

Don't take tension, go ahead best of luck.