July, 1977 – Midwest, USA
It’s hard to believe I graduated in March, over 3 months ago! I have learned so much working on evening shift with my diabetic patients. I’m feeling fairly comfortable now with my skills and organization. The most difficult decision is if I should call the doctor at home, or if it can wait until morning. In March, I received a 6 month Graduate Nurse permit which I’m working under. Whenever I sign my name on the chart, I follow it with GN1117 which is my permit number. The doctors have started calling me “007”!
The state only offers Nursing Boards twice a year in July and February. If I don’t pass my boards the first attempt in July, I will lose my job and have to work as a nursing assistant which would be a huge pay cut and very embarrassing. Since my sister, Linda, has been a nurse for 3 years now, I asked her for suggestions in preparing for the boards. She said she reviewed her notes from all her classes and asked the Lord to help her choose the right answer. So I have been reviewing my class notes and textbooks an hour a day and more on my days off.
Tomorrow is the big day! The boards are being given at the State fairgrounds, of all places. I hope we’re not in the same barn as the cows….
State Boards – Day One – July 6, 1977
I’m afraid I was so nervous last night that I only slept a couple hours. It is 100 degrees Fahrenheit today, so the heat didn’t help either. (I do not have any air conditioning in my apartment.) I entered the large room that held about 100 single desks. The air conditioning felt wonderful! (No cows in sight!) The moderator instructed us to put our purse under our chair and look straight ahead or at our desk at all times. If anyone was caught trying to look at their neighbor’s answer sheet, they would immediately be expelled from the room and not allowed to take the test again. There were two sharpened pencils on each desk and a blank scantron answer sheet with bubbles to color in with pencil. Each person had a blank white sheet to cover up their answers so no one walking past could see.
There were 3 tests today and 3 tomorrow. Each test lasted 2 hours. Today we were tested on Medical and Obstetrics before lunch, and Psychiatry after lunch. Tomorrow we will be tested on Surgery and Pediatrics before lunch. After lunch we will take a test of sample questions for next year’s boards.
I completed Medical and Obstetrics and began to relax a little. Then I found some of my classmates and we went to lunch together at a nearby German restaurant. We all compared our answers and wondered if we had done well enough to pass? It was good to see them again since I had not been with them since March.
We returned after lunch and the moderator handed out the test and answer sheet for Psychiatry. The air conditioning felt so good after being outside in the heat. I began reading through each question and coloring in the bubble for the best answer of the 4 multiple choice answers.
All of a sudden I heard the moderator say, “You have 10 minutes remaining to complete this exam.” My head snapped up. Ten minutes!!! I couldn’t believe that I fell asleep in the middle of the test! I quickly prayed and asked God to help me finish on time. I had about 20 more questions to complete. I quickly read the question, chose the best answer and moved on. As I colored in the last bubble, the moderator said, “Time is up. Put down your pencil and bring your exam to me.” There were only a few of us still there. Normally I am a fast test taker, but there was no time to go over my answers.
State Boards – Day Two – July 7, 1977
I am so thankful that I slept like a rock last night! It’s also a little cooler today. I completed all the tests today without falling asleep! The surgical exam seemed fairly easy because I have taken care of so many surgical patients on the diabetes unit. There were about 15 questions on diabetes on the Pediatric exam so I whizzed through those since I could apply the same knowledge from my adult diabetic patients that I had learned. My three months of experience was definitely helpful today. Now I wait about 6 weeks for the results to come in the mail. I pray they arrive before my temporary nursing permit expires! The Lord’s will be done. If He wants me to be a nurse, I will pass.
August 30, 1977
I scanned the mail. There it was! The State Board of Nursing return address was in the left corner of the white envelope. I sat down on my bed and prayed to the Lord to give me a quiet heart of acceptance no matter what the results. I opened the single sheet of paper and scanned the results.
It listed my scores for each exam and at the bottom in capital letters it read PASSED.
I looked at the individual test scores and was amazed that my score for Psychiatry (where I fell asleep) was higher than Obstetrics (my lowest score). I was also amazed that Pediatrics was my highest score. I guess it was because of all those questions on diabetes.
Thank You, dear Lord!!! You gave me the strength and wisdom to get through four years of college and now I am a fully REGISTERED NURSE!!! I commit my nursing career to You, and ask that You would use me for Your glory and honor. Amen.
I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me! Philippians 4:13
I went to work the next evening and proudly wrote RN after my name!
Reflection – 2014
The graduate nurse now takes a NCLEX exam on the computer at a testing center within a few miles of their home at a time convenient to them. It is no longer separated into specialty areas. The GN has 6 hours to complete the test in one day. There are also numerous review programs one can pay a fee and attend to prepare for the exam. A person can pay $7.95 extra to receive the “unofficial” results in 48 hours.
I remember when I took my GRE test for graduate school on the computer at a testing center 3 miles from my house. I received my test results in 5 minutes which was nice! There are certain advantages to computers these days.