Nurses gather in front of the White House to demand PPE from the President, Congress and other government entities + honor fallen nurses who succumb to COVID-19.
Category: Nursing School
The Covid-19 pandemic underscores the urgent need to strengthen the global health workforce. A new report, The State of the World’s Nursing 2020, provides an in-depth look at the largest component of the health workforce. Learn more about these findings on our blog!
Countless nurses on the front lines have been infected and several have died in service due to the lack of PPE, below standard working conditions and impossible patient surges. With such conditions, a resounding fear amongst providers has been their own mortality and the financial impact it may their families- amid other concerns. This fear has kept some away from the frontline and is definitely a large stressor to those who are working tirelessly.
If you’ve started clinical, Congrats! Getting your clinical start means you’re progressing through your labs and courses successfully. This is an exciting time begin exploring the different facets and specialties in nursing and apply some real hands-on skills. Additionally, clinical also allows a better feel for what area of nursing best resonates with you and where you might be interested in working in the near future. But make no mistake, getting to this point is just the beginning.
Check out these proven tips below on how to get a guaranteed “pass” at clinical.
1. Eat a Good Breakfast & Bring Snacks
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it twice. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and proper nutrition will play a major role in your clinical success. Research shows that your brain uses about 20% of your body’s energy or about 320 calories for thinking alone! That said store up on energy with a well rounded breakfast that will fuel you adequately into your next meal. Unfortunately, clinical don’t lend themselves to frequent breaks and require a ton of standing on your feet.
2. Be On Time
First impressions really are everything and consistency is key. This is not the time to forget to set the alarm or be tardy. The aforementioned behaviors can leave a negative impression on your clinical instructor, disrupts the flow of the group and can cause you to get a clinical failure. That said, you want your first and ongoing encounters to be positive ones. Arrive promptly at your clinical site each and every time.
3. Get Adequate Rest
Long shifts are hard but they can be brutal for new comers who aren’t used to typical healthcare hours. Clinical can often last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours but generally last around the latter. Getting to bed early the night before clinical is a great way to get a head start on your big day and will help ensure you show up alert, well rested and energized for the day.
4. Come Prepared & Be Pop Quiz Ready
If you’ve not yet started clinical you’ve probably heard that your instructor may likely put you on the spot with what seems like random questions about your patients, medications and anything else they think you should know. If your lucky you’ll be allowed to visit the unit prior to clinical to gather all pertinent patient info ahead of time. If not, be sure to bring your assessment book, pocket sized drug guides, resources and apps for quick references when you have down time.
5. Phone & Social Media Etiquette
Although mobile phones have become a huge part of our lives, it goes without saying that clinical is not the place to be on it and could be the cause of a clinical failure. Be sure to turn your phone on silent or consider leaving it in your car or assigned area with your belongings. If you have to be on standby for a potential emergency call, discuss this with your instructor up front. If a call must be taken, leave from direct patient settings to do so. HIPAA is real. Think twice before sharing content from the hospital setting. Also remember, geotagging your images and using hospital hashtags will make it easy for the hospital’s marketing team to identify you.
6. All Clinical Sites Aren’t Created Equal- Be Open Minded
Every clinical setting will be different. Location, patient population, resources and access to care amongst other things can play a role in your clinical experience. Some facilities may lack amenities while others appear cush and pristine. Additionally, the type of facility your clinical is at may drive the things you’re able to see and do. For example, teaching and academic institutions are geared towards educating health professionals and tend to have more observation and learning opportunities. Regardless of the site, remember to show kindness, cultural competence and professionalism at all times.
7. Advocate for Your Own learning
The hard truth is that you may not see half of what you’ve learned in class or lab while at clinical. However, when opportunities present themselves for additional learning or observation jump at the chance. Depending on the facility and unit size, chances such as this may be far and few in between. Don’t be shy- reversely if there are things you’d like to see, don’t hesitate to mention it to your instructor or nurse as they are aware of the patients on the floor and can help facilitate your request if possible.
8. Be Ethical
If for some reason you find yourself in a situation where you feel there may possibly be a chance you’ve done something that could harm a patient, be sure to speak up. No one is perfect and there is no shame in admitting a mistake. Further, don’t let fear or embarrassment stop you from doing the right thing. Keep in mind the patient’s safety is the top priority. Reversely, If you see a fellow classmate doing something wrong that could harm a patient don’t hesitate to speak up and advocate for the patient’s safety.
9. Treat Each Day of Clinical as a Potential Job Interview
If you fall in love with a unit during clinical be sure to do everything in your power to stand out to the leadership team. Introduce yourself to the supervisors and build report with the nurses. Go a step further and put yourself out there by asking questions, going the extra mile for your patients and showing your genuine interest in the unit. This can most definitely lead to you landing your preferred senior practicum placement and even more, can help you land your dream job.
10. Don’t Take it Personal
Clinical can come with an array of ups and downs. Some patients will refuse students while others welcome them with open arms. Some nurses will take you under their wing and others might not. You may get your clinical site preference or your luck of the draw may land you at your last choice. If for some reason don’t mesh well with your clinical instructor try setting up a time to meet with them one on one. If there’s no resolve after that, its probably a good idea to speak with your counselor or instructor at school so that they are aware sooner than later. Above all, don’t take it personal and focus on what you can control. Do your best and approach each day with a new perspective.
Looking for more ways to be prepared? Here’s some additional helpful resources to help you succeed in your nursing career:
Whether your semester has just begun or your classes are in full swing, it’s never too late to revise your strategy and give your time management approach a reality check. Nursing school can be overwhelming and push you in ways you didn’t know you could be challenged. Getting to the finish line will not be easy but a clear and deliberate plan of action will help you get there unscathed.
In nursing school, everything else becomes secondary to studying. Create a daily and or hourly schedule and stick to it to be the most efficient. An hour by hour plan will help tremendously in keeping you on track to hit your daily milestones. In addition, it will be helpful to get conditioned to studying first before everything else. On days when on site classes are held, commuters should consider staying on campus to complete studying for the day instead of wasting precious time in stop and go traffic. If you stay on campus, avoid trips back and forth between classes to the your room and use small breaks to stick it out in the library. Keep flash cards on hand for quick study breaks when your schedule allows. Downloading audio lectures can be helpful for learning on the go and can be accessed on your headset or in the car. Parents should try to maximize time when children are sleeping or at school and use this time to study also. Lastly use weekends to meal prep, do house chores, prepare for the week and of course study!
Getting organized can drastically change your nursing school experience for the better and create more time for focused learning.. Allocating specific folders, binders and bags for each class or day of the week will help you tremendously. Printing the syllabi for each course, outlining major deadlines and noting all test and assignment dates can be lifesaving. Large calendars are also great for providing a monthly view of classes, assignments, tests and clinicals. Small planners can provide a great weekly view of your obligations and phone reminders can be essential. Organization will allow you the space and peace of mind to study. Preparing class and clinical materials ahead of time can be lifesaving.
DEVELOP AN EFFECTIVE STUDY STRATEGY
Undoubtedly, studying is the most time intensive task in nursing school. There’s an exorbitant amount of info to read, digest and retain and seemingly not enough time in the day to tackle it all. Study at times that you are most energized and receptive. Create a dedicated area in your home that’s conducive to studying helps to set the tone and environment for optimal learning that’s free of distractions. It is also important to master the skill of intaking and dumping information. Unlike your pre-nursing courses, being super detailed oriented could actually work against you in nursing school. After your first test, there should be an analysis of the materials you covered as it relates to what you were actually tested on. Let this information guide your future study habits per course. Your learning style may be auditory or visual; however, most people study best in groups and are able to grasp concepts from peers more concisely. Lastly, grab a few classmates with similar schedules to form a study group and test your knowledge by explaining and teaching one another.
KEEP SOCIAL TO A MINIMUM
“Do what you have to now so you can do what you want later.” While cliche, the aforementioned expression holds true. Nursing school is no joke and is a real life commitment and sacrifice of time. Depending on the rigidity of your program, you may want to consider minimizing social outings for the duration of your program. This does not mean that you can’t have a life or shouldn’t see your friends and family; however, it does mean you should be doing so a lot less. Remember, self-care is a huge component of keeping your sanity during this challenging time. Be sure to prioritize time for things that make you happy, recharge your energy and allow you to step away for mental breaks. Schedule your social time in advance to be sure your interactions are not becoming distractions to your focus and productivity. Also, it may not be a bad idea to limit time on social media as well. You can use various apps to track and limit your usage.
In nursing school you have countless assignments, deadlines, tests and obligations. In this environment a hectic schedule can get the best of them despite proper planning and time management. Therefore, having a human reminder can really go a long way. Identifying a buddy in the program will be gold and in addition to helping you stay on top of all your deadlines, they can provide moral support and encouragement which can improve your nursing school experience drastically.
Nurses begin forming good habits while in nursing school. Nursing school can be challenging. It takes persistence. Focus. Balance. The latter being the trickiest. Not providing balance in your life can lead to stress, exhaustion, burnout and an unsuccessful bout in nursing school. Burnout nursing students are highly susceptible to becoming burnout nurses.
Self-care habits are essential for nurses and can help combat the stressors of the field. If you’ve yet to figure out how to manage stress through self care, you will inevitably feel overwhelmed when assuming your professional role.
Here are four habits that will make your transition from nursing student to nurse smoother and allow you more time to hone your skill.
Watch what you eat
Eating on-the-go is convenient. Grabbing a bag of chips or candy from a vending machine is easy. Foods high in fat can make us feel sluggish and decrease our body’s natural ability to fight stress. Try eating healthy meals by following a nutritious food plan. Meal prepping is an easy way to achieve this.
- Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet
- Eat breakfast daily
- Ask your physician about multivitamins
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water
- Pack healthy snacks for long days of lab, study, or clinical time
- Avoid fried foods, refined sugar, alcohol, and excessive caffeine
Stress can weaken the immune system. Try increasing your intake of citrus fruits, which are high in vitamin c–a stress-reducing antioxidant.
Journaling is an excellent way to express your thoughts and feelings and to relieve stress. Take a journal with you daily. Anytime you feel stressed, write down what triggered it. It’s a great way to track stressors and figure out ways to prevent or relieve them. Your journal shouldn’t be all about stress, however. Every day write a gratitude list. This list will contain the things you’re thankful for. It’s a great way to shift your focus onto the positive things happening in your life.
Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga are great ways to build self-awareness. Find a quiet space and practice deep breathing. Sitting with your back straight, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth–slowly and deeply from the abdomen. Turn off your phone, laptop, and tv to avoid distractions. Once you’ve mastered deep breathing in your quiet place, you can practice it on-demand. Anytime, you feel overwhelmed or stressed practice your deep breathing exercises. It’s an excellent way to:
- Control your breathing
- Slow down your heart rate
- Become self-aware
- Reevaluate your surroundings
Essential oils are another great way to induce relaxation. Effectiveness can be trial and error, but once you find your oil or combination of oils, incorporating them into your routine can be highly beneficial.
We all know your long-term goal is to graduate, pass NCLEX and land your dream nursing job. First, you have to make it through your nursing program successfully. Focus on one class, one simulation lab, or one clinical at a time. Set short-term and long-term S.M.A.R.T goals.
Write out your goals in your journal or place them in an area that you see daily. Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal.
Self-care is beyond important. Incorporating a few good habits will make your nursing school journey easier. Don’t forget to use your new habits when you become that fantastic nurse you’ve dreamed of to continue beating burnout.
About the Author
Portia Wofford is a staff development and quality improvement nurse, content strategist, healthcare writer, entrepreneur, and nano-influencer. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development–while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest.
Entry into nursing school comes with many new and exciting challenges – including a brand new way of studying! Beware, there are no test like nursing school tests. All memes aside, the exams in nursing school are just different and so should the way you prepare for them. With the sleepless nights and last-minute cram sessions that many of you will face in the upcoming weeks, developing study habits that will help you succeed on nursing school exams can be quite overwhelming. After consulting with expert nurse educators to find out what helps their students soar on exams, we’ve come up with these helpful study tips and we want to share them with you!
Here are five ways to study for nursing school exam success:
ORGANIZE AND REVIEW ALL RESOURCES PROVIDED
Nurse educators, instructors and professors work diligently to supply their students with many additional resources to help facilitate learning. If you have not already done so, you should organize all of the supplemental information and give it a thorough review, along with your course textbooks. This will help to greatly improve and validate your understanding of the nursing concepts and content that will show up later on your exams. Be sure to take the initiative to do this on a weekly basis, regardless of how much you dread the tedious task of organizing your binders and reading through every single word. Just think of it this way – the worst thing that can happen is that you might just learn something new!
READ, WRITE, DO AND REDO
When it comes to nursing school exams, you must be well-prepared to succeed. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to over-prepare. One way that you can be sure to score well is to read, write, and review nursing content outside of classroom hours. Ever hear the saying “Practice makes perfect”? This also applies to absorbing the massive amounts of nursing content that you’ll need to know for your exams. A few practical recommendations include reading your textbooks and supplemental material, writing out key points and concepts, and practicing the ability to recall the information when challenged. Whether you choose to use flashcards or a notebook, writing the information down, then challenging yourself to recall the information, it is a great way to study for nursing school exams.
FOCUS ON WEAK AREAS OF UNDERSTANDING
Let’s face it – we all have our favorite topics when it comes to nursing content. Some students love labor and delivery, while others love cardiovascular nursing, and in these cases, students usually score well on related questions. The reality is that most nursing exams are complex and often cumulative, which may include several concepts that you may find challenging. By concentrating on the content that you find most challenging first, then reviewing the easier content after you’ve mastered the more challenging topics, you will improve your chance of rocking the exam. Don’t get distracted by your excitement for one particular area of nursing while you’re in school. You need to master all of the nursing school content to be successful – so tackle the hard stuff first, so you can have the opportunity to stay in the running of becoming a nurse!
TEACH YOUR DOG, CAT, FRIENDS, FAMILY – EVERYONE!
Did you know that teaching is the highest form of understanding? This study technique helps to ensure that you are ready to ace your upcoming nursing school exams. By creating lesson plans with the content that is expected to be on your exams, you will be sure to cover all of the essentials during your teachings. You should create high-level test questions to ask your audience during your teachings, and be sure to restate the key points and rationale regularly to emphasize comprension. Some students find that being a student tutor is a great way to gain additional exposure to teaching and content mastery. Either as a tutor or part of a study group, nursing students who adopt teaching as a method for exam preparation often do very well on their exams.
FREQUENT & SHORT STUDY SESSIONS ARE BEST
It’s important to understand that studying for nursing school exams is more like a marathon not a sprint. Students who participate in extensive cram sessions the night before an exam are less likely to score well. Instead of procrastinating until the night before an exam to study, it is recommended that you study in frequent intervals for no more than three-to-four hours per study session. You may hold study sessions two or three times per day for several weeks leading up to an exam, but be sure to keep the sessions limited to only a few hours at a time. During the time in between studying, make sure to engage in activities that are healthy and relaxing – such as sharing a well balanced meal with family, exercising, or getting out of the house.
We hope that you find these five study tips helpful during your nursing school journey. Be sure to share this post with your nursing school peers, and contribute to this discussion by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below!
Reality shock is something that you may have heard about in nursing school, but know very little about. Most nursing programs do not adequately prepare their students with coping mechanisms to effectively manage each phase of reality shock.
Once you start your new job as a nurse, having straight A’s or being the most popular student among your professors won’t matter. You’ll have to establish credibility among all your new colleagues and that’s not an easy task. In fact, it can be shocking and quite intimidating.
Let’s discuss what reality shock is, and tips for managing each phase.
The Four Phases of Reality Shock In Nursing
The idea of reality shock is applied to those who are new to the nursing profession or new to a nursing speciality, where they go through a learning and growing transition. This process has four phases: honeymoon, shock, recovery, and resolution.
The honeymoon phase is a period of excitement for new graduates. You may be very excited to be joining the profession and find yourself eager to learn as much as possible. You will be guided by your desire to do your very best and become confident in your new roles and responsibilities.
Tip: It is important to establish working relationships where trust and respect are demonstrated between you and your preceptors during this phase. This will help to minimize complications in the following phases of reality shock.
The new nurse is the most vulnerable in the second phase – the shock phase, as this is when negative feelings towards your new role may surface. This is often when the new nurse realizes that the expectation of their new role is inconsistent with the day-to-day responsibilities and work flow. When nurses find themselves in the shock phase, they are at risk to quit, leave their unit, or experience burn out.
Tip: Critical strategies to ease through the shock phase include: finding a mentor for guidance, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, being sure to get adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and having fun with family and friends. It is also essential that you develop a strong support network, and workplace buddies that have your back.
During the recovery phase, new nurses begin an upward climb back to the positive side. Now able to consider all sides of your new role as a nurse, you will begin to see the job realities with a more open perspective. You can begin to accept the challenges of your day-to-day responsibilities, and find creative solutions to barriers in providing safe and effective nursing care.
Tip: To ensure that you do not move back to the shock phase, it is important to seek out constructive criticism, and let your preceptors and mentors know where you are having trouble adjusting. Seek out clarification, and be sure to always work within your limitations. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know. Once you become confident in your roles and responsibilities, you will move to the resolution phase.
The fourth and final stage, which is typically after one year of nursing experience, is the resolution phase. During the resolution phase the nurse fully understands their role and fully contributes to the delivery of safe and effective patient care.
Tip: It is important that you continue to focus on the positive aspects of your job in order to maintain ongoing satisfaction and career success. Engage in continuing education by earning an advanced degree, or becoming certified. When you remain engaged in your own professional development, you are sure to find fulfillment within the nursing profession.
Here are some additional coping skills that you may find helpful as you transition into your new role as a nurse:
Focus on mastering your skills
Making sure that your nursing skills are being performed in the way that follows facility and state regulations will help you to avoid mistakes and help to build confidence. The first six months to a year is an important time for you to work on improving your ability to perform all client care and administrative skills independently, thus boosting your confidence and satisfaction within your new role.
Seek Guidance from experienced nurses
Just because you finished orientation at your new job does not mean that you are all alone in providing client care. In fact, nursing is always a team effort, and you are encouraged to seek guidance and resource experienced nursing staff to help you when you need it.
When juggling the complex treatments, and patient care of today’s healthcare system, we all rely on one another to deliver the safest and most effective client care possible. Be sure to identify your learning needs as they arise and seek the expert guidance you will need to feel confident in your roles and responsibilities.
Find a nursing specialty that fits
Not all nursing specialty areas are created equal. The expectations and responsibilities of nurses in an emergency department are very different than those of a medical-surgical unit. In many cases, new graduate nurses are eager to begin working and accept the first specialty that they are offered.
In the event that you find yourself really struggling with the specialty you are working in, be sure to discuss your concerns with your supervisor before deciding to quit. They will be able to identify your struggles and may offer effective coping strategies and/or specialty alternatives accordingly. Switching specialties within the first six months to a year is quite common, and many times healthcare facilities will accommodate your requests to keep you on staff.
We hope that these tips for managing reality shock help you as you transition from student nurse to professional nurse. If you have any additional tips you’d like to share, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
When we ask new graduate nurses what they find to be most difficult as they are transitioning from student nurse to professional nurse, the majority say that it is delegation. This is because the artful skill of nursing delegation is one that can take years of experience to master. It involves transferring responsibility from one individual to another, while retaining accountability for the outcomes. This is a completely different role for the new grad nurse to get used to, especially since the opportunities to practice delegation are very limited during nursing school.
Since new graduate nurses are often hesitant in giving the responsibility of carrying out patient care tasks to others, this brings on additional stress to the transitioning nurse, which can result in poor time management and overwhelming workloads.
Let’s face it – nursing is not a one person show. It takes a team to safely and effectively care for patients. Since nursing is a team effort, it is vial that the new nurse master strategies for safe and effective delegation. To help new grad nurses better manage their roles and responsibilities, we’re dropping gems on strategies for safe and effective delegation below.
Decide when delegation is appropriate
Okay new nurses, here’s the scoop – You should NEVER delegate what you can E.A.T. The nurse is responsible for Evaluating, Assessing and Teaching. These are specific responsibilities of the Registered Nurse and should always be carried out by the RN. Delegation can begin after the RN has assessed the patient, and the condition and needs of the patient have been considered. The RN will prioritize the patient’s needs based on their condition, and differentiate between nursing and non-nursing tasks. Let’s not forget that initial assessment (including vital signs) are to be done by the RN, and therefore should not be delegated to the nursing assistant. Once you have assessed your patients and have considered their needs, now you can begin to think about whom you may delegate to.
Determine adequate skill levels
It’s up to the RN to choose the appropriate person for the task. It is essential to know the skill level of each team member to match the task assignment appropriately. One easy way to accomplish his task is by getting to know your co-workers. Here are some questions you may want to ask to help you feel more confident about your decision in choosing:
Is this person licensed or unlicensed?
How long has this person worked within their role?
Has this person been validated for competence in performing the task?
Does the person feel confident that they can safely and effectively perform the task?
Does the person need additional training or instruction to complete the task independently?
Once you have asked yourself these questions, you will be able to move into the next phase of safely and effectively delegating.
Use clear communication when delegating tasks
In order for any task to be effectively delegated, nurses must give clear, concise and detailed instructions. This includes the purpose, any identified limits, and expected outcomes of the task. Also, the nurse must ensure that the person to assume the task can complete it within the expected time frame established. Nurses should consider that the person you are delegating to will be working with several other patients, so be mindful and set realistic, attainable goals. Finally, the nurse must always ask if there are any questions or concerns which promotes clarification and opportunity for the supportive personnel to disclose concerns related to the tasks.
Supervise the delegated work and provide feedback
To ensure the delegated work has been completed appropriately, nurses must offer direct supervision and feedback as needed. They must also be available in case an unexpected outcome occurs. You should never assume that the task was completed without validating it by checking that all components of the task have been accurately carried out. Be sure to build strong relationships with your nursing support staff by identifying areas of success and offering suggestions for improvement. And don’t forget to say “thank you”—it goes a long way!
Evaluate task outcomes
To ensure that the patient received the care needed and that the team worked together efficiently, RNs must evaluate the delegation process upon task completion. If an unexpected outcome occurs, it is essential that RNs develop a plan to correct the deficiencies if possible.
As you hit the floor running, please remember that learning to delegate effectively takes time and practice. Reflecting on the process of delegation and identifying areas for improvement will help you develop this important skill. Good luck —we know you got this!
If you have any further tips or suggestions to promote safe and effective delegation, please share your thoughts in the comments section!
Congrats for getting through the many trials and tribulations of what we like to call Nursing School – you rock! Now that you have proven your competency in the classroom and clinical setting, you must now focus on getting past the final academic hurdle to becoming a licensed, practicing nurse – the NCLEX.
In order to begin your professional journey in nursing, you must be able to pass the NCLEX. This standardized, computerized adaptive test (CAT) is offered year-round, and is administered by Pearson Vue, and governed by the state board of nursing in which you choose to practice in.
With the right preparation and study plan, passing the NCLEX is absolutely attainable. Although passing the NCLEX is attainable for everyone who takes it seriously, it is important to understand that the NCLEX does not measure your intelligence, nor does it predict how successful you will be within your nursing career. In fact, the NCLEX only measures your ability to critically think through the questions and answer choices to arrive to the best answer. Typically the best answer is the safest, most patient-centered, most therapeutic, and within the scope of nursing practice.
Whether you are preparing to take the NCLEX for the first time, or you are repeating the exam, here are five tips for NCLEX success:
Understand what the NCLEX is and how it is formatted
Remember us mentioning computerized adaptive test (CAT) earlier? It means that no single exam is identical, and that questions provided are based on how you are answering previous questions. For example, if you answer the very first question on the test correctly, you will receive a question that is a little bit harder. If you answer the first question incorrectly, then you will receive a test question that is a little bit easier. The computer will select questions based on areas of strength and weakness throughout the exam.
The test will ask you a minimum of 75 questions, and a maximum of 265 questions. The test determines if you pass when you stay above the passing line with a 95% confidence interval. This does not mean that you have to answer 95% of the questions correctly. What it does mean though is that the computer must be 95% confident that you have remained above the passing threshold. The candidate will fail the test when they do not rise above the passing line with 95% confidence.
To help you better understand, think of it this way – there is a horizontal line on an axis and we will call it the “pass line.” Anything above it is passing, and anything below it is not passing. You start exactly on the line at question one, and with each correct and incorrect answer, you get bumped up a notch or down a notch. With each correct answer, the computer will provide progressively more difficult questions. To pass, you must ultimately rise to a point above the pass line that demonstrates competency with marginal doubt. It is important to know that the test can end at any number between 75 and 265 when this determination is made, or when you have met the maximum time allowed – which is six hours.
Find ways to reduce your Stress Levels
For all of the anxious test-takers out there – don’t fret. We know of many ways to manage your stress. Test-anxiety is a very real, very common thing. It is important that you understand that you are not alone when it comes to feeling nervous and even doubtful when testing. Even if you don’t typically have test anxiety, there is a chance that you will be nervous just from the pressure of passing the NCLEX.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can reduce your stress levels and stay focused on becoming a licensed nurse:
Find test-taking strategies that work for you
There are many helpful tools and methods that can assist you in choosing the correct answer choice on the NCLEX. Mastering individualized test-taking strategies and applying them to every single test question can help reduce distractions caused by your racing mind. Using a systematic approach rather than relying on your memory may prove to be very helpful in reducing your anxieties.
Get plenty of rest before the exam
It is important that you refrain from staying up all night studying before the NCLEX. Knowing that NCLEX questions are written in a way that requires critical thinking and a great deal of focus. Being tired only inhibits your brain’s ability to make clear decisions. Be sure to engage in the number one preferred self-care activity of all time – adequate sleep and rest.
Eat a healthy breakfast and avoid too much caffeine
For a week or more leading up to the day of the exam, it’s important that your body and mind are well-nourished. That’s why it’s important to eat a healthy diet. On the day of the exam, you will want to eat a brain powering breakfast such as egg whites, fresh fruit, and water or herbal tea. Having one cup of coffee in the morning is fine, but overdoing the caffeine can cause you to feel jittery and could make your test anxiety worse.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and regain your focus!
At times you may feel your nerves starting to get the best of you during the exam, so it’s important to regain control. Closing your eyes and taking a deep breath is a simple and effective way to calm your nerves and regain your focus.
Don’t fixate on not knowing the answer – Just take an educated guess and move on
Sometimes we get to a point to where our best test-taking strategy doesn’t help us choose the right answer on the NCLEX exam. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t freak out – it happens to us all. Just take an educated guess and move on. Dwelling on the fact that you do not know the answer will provide unnecessary distractions that could send you down the wrong path. Simply accept that you don’t know, select the answer that makes the most sense, and move to the next question.
Don’t let real-world experience or past clinical experiences trick you
It is very important to understand that the creators of the NCLEX write questions and answer choices in a way that will make you immediately react. This reaction is generally the cause of real-world experiences that you are familiar with. Selecting an answer choice based off of this gut feeling is typically a grave mistake. Borrowing from your past experiences as a nursing assistant or during your clinical rotations in school will set you up for failure.
When considering the NCLEX world versus the real world, you should understand that the NCLEX world is 100% perfect. You only have one patient at a time. You have an LPN and a nursing assistant that you can delegate tasks to. You are well-staffed, with all the working equipment you need to provide the BEST care possible. The NCLEX world operates in black and white – textbook standards at all times. There are no cutting corners, or taking shortcuts. Unless the question offers select all that apply answer choices, there is only one correct answer.
As you move through each NCLEX question, you should remind yourself that the creators of the NCLEX want you to use textbook nursing standards as your guide for action. Nurses assess before they implement. Nurses always consider what is most therapeutic for the patient. Nurses always consider the least invasive treatment option first. Nurses always advocate for patient-centered care practices. The nurse can always do something before relying on other members of the healthcare team. Before you answer each question, you should ask yourself – “Is this textbook nursing practice?”
Practice, Practice, Practice
By answering at least 25 NCLEX questions per day, and completing weekly practice exams leading up to sitting for the NCLEX is one of the most important ways to prepare for NCLEX success. It is important to note that simply answering questions and taking the practice exams is only half of the process.
You must also:
Look up questions that you answered incorrectly, and review that nursing topic or content. Every practice question bank provides rationales as to why each answer choice is correct or incorrect.
Jot down notes of which concepts you want to revisit, so with your next study session, you can focus on problem areas.
It is especially useful to take at least 1 or 2 full online mock NCLEX exams so you are used to the experience of computer testing. Go through as much of the question bank as you can before exam day and you will be miles ahead.
Practice applying test-taking strategies learned to every single question. This will help you to master the strategies so that you have a systematic process of approaching each question. This is especially helpful when you may not remember certain topics or content.
Most importantly – BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
Everyone who graduates nursing school deserves to pass the NCLEX and you are no exception! You have already proven your potential as a nurse by graduating nursing school. You did more than complete your coursework. You have proven that you are resilient, creative, caring, and intelligent. Your flexibility, dedication and desire to successfully complete nursing school is far more impressive than passing the NCLEX. Now, you must transition from nursing student to nurse. The NCLEX is your final academic hurdle to earning the right to practice as a licensed, professional nurse – so get out there and rock it – You got this!
If you have any additional recommendations or tips for NCLEX success, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!