Friday, June 21, 2013

Licensed to Heal

I sent out my application for my nursing license the day before my last post here. They give time estimates on the website on how long it may take for you to receive your authorization to test, and I wasn't expecting to receive it until this past Wed at the very earliest. I got my email with authorization the day before that! So I logged in and scheduled my test. Luckily someone had canceled their appointment, so I was able to get a test date just two days later (Thursday, which was yesterday). Woo! Everything went so quickly, that it was almost a blur. I knew I was ready, so that wasn't an issue. I just ramped up my studying a bit.

The night before the exam I had one of those dreams where your alarm doesn't go off, you get up too late and miss everything. That was horrific. I was so relieved when I awoke from the dream and it was only about 5:15am. Ugh! I wasn't planning to get up till 6... So I figured I would get a bit of last-minute studying in and then I left on a very early bus to get downtown.

I got to the test center extremely early (7am for an 8am start time), and I was first to get registered when they opened at 7:20. I started the exam some time around 7:30. I got nervous after the first few questions because I had a feeling I had gotten them all wrong, so I took a deep breath and calmed myself down. Then I got into my groove. 

The NCLEX isn't like other tests. First of all it gives you harder questions when you get one right and easier ones when you get one wrong. Also, it doesn't matter how many you get right. It wants to know that you can answer questions at a certain level. Once it's ascertained where your knowledge/comprehension level is, then it knows if you're going to pass. Third, the test doesn't only have multiple choice questions. It also has "alternative-type" questions like "fill in the blank" (which are math questions), put in the correct order, choose all that apply, and ones with pictures. Our Kaplan review teacher told us that all alternative-type questions are above passing level, so if you get them then you know you're on the right track. Every time I got one of these alternative-type questions, I did an internal cheer. It really kept me going because I knew that I was above passing - and I had a bunch of them! 

The NCLEX has between 75 and 265 questions. If the system has figured out your knowledge level after 75 questions then it shuts you off - pass or fail. If it hasn't figured you out, then you keep getting questions until it does. At 265 it shuts off regardless, and then I think it takes an average of your last 60 questions or so to figure out if you pass or not. I started getting excited when I neared 75, because I had a feeling it would cut me off. I knew I was above passing because of all of those questions, and as soon as I hit the button after answering question 75 I got the blue screen telling me I was finished. YAY! At that point I don't even think it was 8:15 yet, and I was very excited.

I knew that it would take about 3 business days for me to get official notification of passing, but once again someone is working over time at the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing because the next day (today) I got my license number in an email with my official letter from the state. Even though I knew I had passed, it was still incredible to see the congratulations from the state in writing with my license number. So that's it! I'm officially a registered nurse!!! Hopefully I'll be able to start an online BSN program in August and then midwifery school about a year from now. My journey has just begun.