Sunday, August 06, 2006

finishing nursing school

My experience at Penn State was, in many ways, the beginning of opening my mind. For the first time, I formed a close friendship with someone who was not a churchgoer. I abandoned much of my personal religious practice, first because of time constraints and then because I didn't miss it. On the first test in nursing school, I got the highest grade in the class. This is funny to me now. Was that a fluke, or did I have the aptitude to do that the whole way through?

I was much more prepared personally this second time around. I am not a great scholar. I seldom read textbook assignments. If I was prepared for a quiz, it was something of an anomaly. I am fortunate to be able to pick up enough to pass in most situations. This time through, I wasn't quite so scared of the patients that were my weekly homework. I started to get a feeling for nursing that I had no concept of before. I'll never know how I knew that I wanted to do this when I didn't even know what it was.

Penn State's nursing program is generally considered to be a pretty hard one. They brag on 100% pass rates on nursing board exams for their graduates. It shouldn't have been much of a surprise when I failed the third semester (of four) by a hair. I swallowed my disappointment and re-upped.

I spent a semester taking classes that I really liked. I had a few outstanding sociology and literature professors who wanted to know why I wasn't a writing major. Because I don't love writing the way I love nursing, and maybe because it is without the short term reward that nursing is full of for me.

That third sad year I was without XBFRN, who successfully completed the program, so I suppose I had more time to study. The town was empty without him. No reason to leave early for class or hang out after school. When it snowed I had to get a hotel to avoid the hour drive home and hour drive back in the morning. Anyway, the net result was that I made it. I finished the program. I had no reason to attend graduation, but my parents wanted a ceremony, so I went and marched.

I had met my husband by this time and planned to move to Florida to be with him after graduation, but that's another story. I took the NCLEX, the nursing licensure exam in Miami. I studied those review books until my head just about fell off. When my scores started dropping, I decided I had overstudied and put them all away. The morning of the big test j. dropped me off at the testing center. I felt excited and prepared. I submitted my thumbprint, swore not to cheat and faced the computer.

NCLEX is a smart test. If you answer a question right, it gives you a harder one. If you miss it, you get an easier one. Once you answer enough hard enough questions, the test shuts off. Then you wait to find out whether you passed or not. My test stopped after the minimum number of questions. This doesn't mean anything. You can be so dumb that the test decides not to waste its time on you. You can also be promising enough that it gives you the maximum number, just to give you a fair chance, and still flunk.

A few days later, I checked online and found that I had passed. I already had a job that was just waiting for a test result to start me. That was the biggest happy dance ever. A long story to lead to a very rewarding success. It's good to remember that when I get bogged down. I am where I want to be, living my dream.

R. Connors

1 comment:

ScienceWoman said...

It's wonderful when hard work pays off. A very belated congratulations on passing your test.