July 1977 – Midwest, USA
Since my graduation over three months ago. I have learned much while working on the evening shift with my diabetic patients. I’m comfortable now with my skills and organization. The most difficult decision is if I should call the doctor at home, or if the matter can wait until morning. In March, I received a six-month Graduate Nurse permit which I’m working under. Whenever I sign my name on the chart, I follow it with my permit number of GN1117. The doctors have started calling me “007”.
Ohio only offers Nursing Boards twice a year in July and February. If I don’t pass my boards on 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 embarrassing. Since my sister, Marsha, 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 for at least an hour daily.
Tomorrow is the big day at the Ohio State Fairgrounds, of all places. I hope we’re not in the same barn as the cows.
State Boards – Day One – July 6, 1977
Because of my nervousness, I only slept a couple of hours last night. The 100-degree heat didn’t help either since I do not have any air conditioning in my apartment. I entered the large testing room, took a breath of the cool air, and chose a seat at one of the dozens of desks. 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 be 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 the pencil. Each person had a blank white sheet to cover up their answers so no one walking past could see.
Today they test us 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. We enjoyed our reunion and swapped notes about our experiences 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 four multiple-choice answers.
All of a sudden I heard the moderator say, “You have ten 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. With about twenty more questions to complete, I 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.” Normally I take tests rapidly, but there was no time to review my answers.
State Boards – Day Two – July 7, 1977
God gave me sweet sleep last night with the cooler weather, and I completed all the tests today without falling asleep. The surgical exam seemed easy because I have taken care of so many surgical patients on the diabetes unit. With numerous questions about diabetes on the Pediatric exam, I whizzed through those also. My three months of experience definitely helped today. Now I wait six 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. At last. I read the State Board of Nursing return address 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.
The Board listed my scores for each exam and at the bottom, I saw one word in capital letters: 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). Pediatrics was my highest score because of all the 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.
The graduate nurse now takes an 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 three miles from my house. I received my test results in five minutes. There are definite advantages to computers these days.