Friday, February 3, 2012

Rachael Pearce, RN

Can I just say that I am SO relieved to be writing this post?! All the anxiety from the last few months has just melted away after finding out I passed the NCLEX! I am now, officially, a registered nurse and will be starting my job in the NICU on the 13th of February. Of course, I have a bit of anxiety about that too... but, I can do this! I can be a grown up, real life, working woman! Right? I guess we'll see :)

The NCLEX was quite the experience. I have known that it was coming for months and months and had guilt trips every now and then because I wasn't studying like I should have been. But, come on... who wants to study during Christmas break?! So, after getting back from New Mexico, dealing with Brian's broken feet fiasco, and psyching myself up for this exam, I got to work. I did thousands of practice questions and tried to memorize as many medications as I could... but I still felt woefully unprepared for the exam. It snuck up on me and I pulled some very late nights to try and feel more confident about the test.

For those of you who don't know, the NCLEX is Evil. With a capital E. The test is designed in such a way that you always feel like you fail - no matter what! It consistently gives you questions that you only have a 50% chance of getting right. Therefore, you get about 50% of them right... and consequently feel like you are failing because you are guessing on practically all of them. It wasn't hard to narrow the answers down to 2 most likely. And then to sit there and go "innie meenie mynie mo" in your head is not too comforting on your national exam. Here is some info from their website about how the exam works:

Why CAT?

CAT is used for the NCLEX because it:
  • Reduces the number of “easy” items that high-ability candidates receive; “easy” items tell little about a high performing candidate’s ability,
  • Reduces the number of “difficult” items low-ability candidates receive; candidates tend to guess on items that are too difficult which can skew results,
  • Reduces item exposure and subsequent security risks,
  • Improves precision of measurement of the NCLEX candidates ability related to nursing and
  • Provides a valid and reliable measurement of nursing competence.

How Does CAT Work?

  1. Every time you answer an item, the computer re-estimates your ability based on all the previous answers and the difficulty of those items.
  2. The computer then selects the next item that you should have a 50% chance of answering correctly.
    • This way, the next item should not be too easy or too hard.
    • The computer’s goal is to get as much information as possible about your true ability level.
    • You should find each item challenging as each item is targeted to your ability
  3. With each item answered, the computer’s estimate of your ability becomes more precise.
Here - watch this video - it explains a lot!

Anyway, so after a delicious breakfast made by my awesome husband, a few more hours of studying, I made the trek to Draper to get it done.  I got to the testing center, studied a few more flashcards in my car, went inside, felt like puking, signed in (got my finger and palms scanned - neat!), was given some instructions and earplugs, and sat in my cubicle. I just kept thinking, "This is it! All these years of school boil down to this test. I better pass." And then... I shoved in my earplugs and started. My first ten questions were not at all encouraging - out of the first 10, 8 of them were "select all that apply" - the worst!! AND, 7 of those 10 were pharmacology questions!! I thought I was going to die. I felt so unsure throughout the whole test. These questions are meant to trick you. I tried to apply all of the strategies I had learned in class and from Kaplan but I still felt like I had to guess on quite a few of them. I was always so grateful when I felt confident about an answer. I was beginning to think that I was never going to pass. 

So, you can get anywhere from 75 to 265 questions based on the "confidence interval" mentioned in the above video. Supposedly if it turns off at 75, your  chances of passing are very high. So, around 65, my heart starting pumping REALLY obnoxiously loud and fast (thanks to the earplugs I was wearing, I could hear it loud and clear). 70....71....72.....73.....74.....75......BLUE SCREEN. I was so happy I about fell out of my chair. I thought for sure it was going to keep going. With the fact that I only got 75 questions as my only shred of hope, I left the testing center still feeling queasy but so glad that I was done. 

And then the real anxiety set in. I thought it was bad before the test. No no no... it is after the test that the anxiety is the worst! Because, now there isn't anything you can do about it! I was either going to pass, start my job in the NICU, and carry on OR fail, have to tell everyone I failed, lose my job offer, pay another $200, study for another 45-90 days for the dreaded test again, and find a different job. To be honest, I was most afraid of the shame. I just kept imagining having to tell my boss, "Um. I'm so sorry... but I can't start work on the 13th. Yes, I failed the NCLEX." Ahhh! That would've been horrible!

So, long story short... Andrea woke me up with a great phone call on Thursday morning informing me that my license was posted on the DOPL website. I'm a nurse! I'm a nurse!

And now for some highlights from nursing school! I couldn't have gotten through the first year without Andrea - as you will see, she is in a lot of these pictures! It seems that I forgot to take pictures the last couple semesters... 

giving radioactive drugs at Primary Children's Medical Center
My first clinical group! 


Learning how to "scrub-in"

First shots!

First time drawing up "insulin"

More shots... Good job Andrea1

Workin' it at the rest home 


Bahahahah! NG tubes (ours was the last year they ever made students do this...)

Andrea - remember when we spilled your stomach contents onto your pants? I think I can see the spot!

Yep, I loved it!

blood draws...

my first blood draw!


  1. I LOVE this post!!!! Congrats to you!! That is so fun Rach! So glad that I got to be the one to tell you the good news!!! I love these pictures!

  2. ugh...I hate Cat....its the same way with the national EMT and Paramedic exams....I got to 67 and mine shut off and I about freaked out thinking I had failed so many so it wouldnt let me continue. I had heard stories that the average for passing taken was in the 90-120 range and thats what scared me. But Congrats'll do great Nurse Pearce :)


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