Posted in LiFe, Nursing School, organizing, Stress Prevention

NCLEX Studying and When is it the “Perfect” Time to Take it?

There’s not a “Perfect” Time to Take the NCLEX

Taking notes the way that helps me best

I graduated in May of 2021 in the midst of a pandemic. My goal/plan was to take my NCLEX in the middle of June after graduation. Well, my sister’s wedding was at the end of June and I was a bridesmaid; I too am getting married in the year of 2021. The main reason I had planned on taking the NCLEX in the middle of June was because I had seen so many blog posts, Instagram posts, and Pinterest posts saying I should take my exam a month after graduation so I didn’t forget any information and I wanted to get my exam done before all four of the weddings I was in in 2021. Well, if I’m being honest, life happened and I had a lot on my plate with all the weddings. My goal blew up in my face, or so I thought at the time. With my sister’s wedding scheduled right after I had planned on taking my exam, I started to get behind on my UWorld questions (that I had originally purchased for 2 months), there’s roughly 2200 questions to get through. 

Along with the posts saying to take my exam a month after graduation, I saw posts that said to complete 75 questions a day to be ready and get through the questions in a month for the NCLEX. So, graduation was on a Saturday and starting the following Monday I planned on completing my 75 questions a day. Well, Monday came rolling around, I was able to complete 25 questions in about 2+ hrs. After those two hours, I was EXHAUSTED! While taking those 25 questions I was writing down notes from the questions that I couldn’t remember from nursing school. 

Writing things down was my lifesaver throughout nursing school. It was also my crutch. That being said, that’s when I realized there’s no one perfect way to study for the NCLEX (different ideas for studying to come). When I realized how long it was taking me to get through the questions and feel like I was truly getting out of them what I felt I needed; I started contemplating taking my exam later than mid June. I received the email saying my subscription to UWorld was about to expire towards the end of June and I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish all of the questions before that time. So, I didn’t schedule my exam and I purchased UWorld for 2 more months. I felt awful about pushing back my exam. I felt like I was letting myself down, my family down, and my future job down. I felt like I was getting behind each and every day because I wasn’t getting 75 questions done a day. I continuously thought I could be doing better, completing more questions, studying more, and doing less wedding things. Below is the link to one of the study guides I used to study, check out this wonderful nurse! 

As time went on, I realized that was the best decision I could have made for myself at the time. I had an aunt at my sister’s wedding tell me this, “these are the memories you’re not going to get back. You’re at that time in your life that numerous people are getting married and you’re never going to get to experience this again.” Those were some of the most inspirational words I needed to hear at the time. I had been feeling guilty about missing out on wedding events with my friends that were getting married due to studying or doing things for the NCLEX. 

If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s to not give myself such a hard time when it comes to not meeting a specific goal that evidently wasn’t right for me. Let’s be honest, life happens and it throws a wrench in your plans. There is not a “perfect” time to take the NCLEX and no one can tell you when it is your perfect time. For me, my perfect time is 4 and a half months after graduation, after 2 of the weddings I was a bridesmaid in, and before my wedding. I’ve used my past notes, UWorld, and other nurses study guides I’ve found online. There’s many resources to choose from that are best for each individual’s personal type of learning. And god forbid if other life events came up, I could reschedule my exam. 

Everything has to be a balance

My mental health is the most important when it comes to my life. Making sure I’m not putting my test before eating healthy, or getting exercise and fresh air. I’ve come up with systems to give myself breaks. For example, I’ll watch a roughly 45 minute TV show to give myself a quick break from taking questions and it gives me plenty of time to eat some fruit or veggie straws that I may otherwise “forget” (studying and not listening to my stomach) to eat. More on strategies to check in with one’s mental health to come. Please check out my ‘Mental Health’ post to check out which books have helped me thus far. The beautifully wonderful author, Rupi Kaur has words of wisdom that touched my soul specifally when I needed it.

Posted in LiFe, Nursing School, Stress Prevention

COVID Vaccine Education Sheet

In my nursing program, I took part in a Vaccine clinic. Our project was to inform the community about the COVID vaccine. So, my group and I created a poster to help educate the community around our clinical site. There is a lot of great information on there so I thought I’d share the information on here. This vaccine is an extremely current topic and more information is coming out daily. This is just the basics surrounding the COVID vaccine. Please check out the CDC’s website to get the most up to date information. That is where my fellow students and I found most of our info.

I hope this information is helpful to some. If you’d like to download it for your own personal clinical to hand out to patients so they have the information, please do so. Our most valuable tool as nurses and nursing students is education.

This past year has been a lot, for many people. And that’s putting it nicely, let’s be honest. We can all use a little help in learning information. I’m sharing this to help provide education for this extremely current situation going on in our lives right now.

Posted in LiFe, Stress Prevention

Understanding My Mental Health

Mental illnesses are a tough subject to discuss. Most people don’t acknowledge their own struggles. Mainly because we’re taught at a young age to hide our feelings, to not express too many emotions, to always be brave. But from my experience, that doesn’t always work. Yes, there are times that we need to be brave but not 100% of the time.

This beautiful author, Rupi Kaur expresses her feelings, emotions, thoughts, and experiences in their entirety. There have been countless times when I felt as though I had written those same words. Words that I couldn’t fully get out of my thoughts to put onto paper. She speaks words that help me to understand myself more than I had before I opened her books. This is a brief little explanation to how wonderful this woman is and how life saving a few words really can be.

Click Book to purchase!

Click Book to purchase!

Click Book to purchase!

These books have been absolutely amazing to read. Since I bought these books, there hasn’t been one day that has gone by when I haven’t been telling at least one person about them. So, that’s why this one is short and sweet so I can plant a seed for those that need it

Posted in LiFe, Nursing School, organizing, Stress Prevention

Clinical Readiness

Clinical bags/bag Essentials

Clinical stress! No matter how many clinical’s I’ve been to in nursing school I get worried and nervous every time. Something that helps me calm down and relax a little, in general, is making a list. I make a list for everything! Chores, groceries, todo lists; if I can put it on a list to cross it off or check mark it so I know that it’s completed, I do it. So, clinical is nothing different. This way I know I’m not forgetting anything. I’ll admit, Amazon is my best friend with these items. So, I’ve become and Amazon Associate so I could attach the links in this blog. And just to be up front and honest, I do receive a small amount from Amazon when people use these links.

Create Your Own List

My Capstone Check List

Each clinical is going to require a few different materials. For instance, in the list above, I’ve included my pediatric pocketbook for my clinical placement on the pediatric floor. I have also included a few different nursing brains that I’ve accumulated from past clinical placements to see which I feel best fits my clinical needs in this particular placement.

Everyone’s Brain is Different!

I mean this literally and figuratively. The Nurse Brains I use may not be the best for every individual person and that is why I HIGHLY recommend acquiring as many Nurse Brains throughout nursing school as clinical placements. By seeing how each department or hospital uses their Nurse Brains I’ve STARTED to figure out which ones work best for me.

Nurse Brains Coming Soon


Clinical Essentials

NurseIQ Info Badges, Stethoscope, Bandage Scissors, Pocket Drug Guide, Nurse Info Clipboard, Pen Light, Pens, and Essential Oil Retractable Badge Holder
I chose 5 Info cards to hold on to that I felt I needed the most for this specific clinical; head to toe, nursing basics, pediatrics, code blue, and medication calculations

NurseIQ Info Badges: Thank you to a wonderful nurse that has made it her goal to help nursing students and other nurses. I was feeling quite intimidated going into my senior practicum/capstone (final clinical before graduation) due to missing my hands on pediatric clinical. Which was missed due to COVID-19, my cohort and I were unable to complete our pediatric clinical hands on, we had to complete it virtually. So, I started looking at resources when I found this beautiful nurse and her amazing aspirations. Additionally, the best thing about these badges are they’re not only for pediatrics! They cover ALL of the basics that students need and nurses may need reminding of.

Essential Oil Retractable Badge Holder: This is what holds my ID badge and my Info Badges together. I chose the essential oil one because let’s be honest, there’s so many smells in the hospital. It comes with different felt disks so you can keep different smells on different disks. I don’t think I’ve changed out the purple felt disk on mine because it’s my lavender one. If the lavender helps me to not stress as much or if it helps a patient to not stress as much, I say, “why the heck not!” I have gotten so many compliments on it and this is one item that I’ve had from the very beginning.

Pocket Drug Guide: To be fully prepared when dispensing medications. This is one of my most necessary items in my bag. I do not know every med out there, not many do. And one should never administer something they don’t know what its indicatios are or possible side effects to look out for. This book has probably 95% of the medications that I’ve looked up and it fits right in my pocket. For my clinical prep I would mark all of the medications my patient was on. When I would have more than 1 patient I would mark on the tabs, “1” or “2” or even “both” so I know which med goes to which patient and I have the possible side effects, nursing implications, and dosages marked before I go to give the patient their meds. I’ve attached the newest version here.

Bandage Scissors: This was an item I wish I had from the beginning. There had been multiple times that nurses had asked me if I had scissors on me and I always felt behind or forgetful when I had to embarrassingly say, “No.” I will admit that this is not an item I use on a daily basis, however, having them on me when they’re needed is more of a, “HECK YES! I have a pair of scissors!” Instead of feeling any type of disappointment. This particular pair can cut through a penny and can be put in an autoclave. Now, I was not looking for the strongest pair out there. What I was looking for was a sturdy and lasting pair of scissors and after two 12 hour shifts they’re holding up great :).

Pediatric Pocket Book: This item is one that comes in handy more than you’d think. During down time, I look it over and if there’s anything that I don’t remember from the class I highlight it or write it down. I was naive to think that I would remember everything from each course. I would love to be able to remember everything that I’ve learned but unfortunately, that’s not very realistic. I have to remind, reiterate, and rewrite topics to be able to remember them. I’ve also seen that they have these pocket books for other courses. I personally have not used them but if they have as much information (I would assume they would) as this particular pocket book, it’s a great resource. So, I put links to others that I’ve thought about getting, just in case.

A Couple Pen Lights: While performing assessments as a nursing student it’s hard to remember everything you’re supposed to check. There’s so many things running though your mind that it feels like it’s about to explode. One of the assessments I forget most is checking pupils PERRLA (Pupils are Equal, Round, Reactive to Light and Accommodating). With the pen light in my pocket and my nursing basics info badge it makes it easier to remember this assessment. Also, on the pen light they have pupil sizes so you can measure (nice little perk).

Nursing Clipboard: This was another item I unfortunately waited to get until my senior practicum. There were many times I’d try writing on the wall when I needed to add information to my nurse brains. This is another great resource for things such as lab values, pupil measurements, injection sites, all things that when I was in class I thought, “Oh I know this, I understand this,” but then when I’m in the setting I second guess myself and this is an amazing reassurance or double check.

Stethoscope: Now I’ll be honest, I’ve had my stethoscope since I first became a Vet Tech in 2010, so I wont preach about which one is the best because that is something I’m still figuring out. One thing I have figured out is to not spend the most amount of money on my first stethoscope. This is an item that I think is a perfect graduation present for a nursing student. In nursing school your stethoscope gets passed around, taken, moved, tossed, you name it and that’s why I don’t recommend getting your “perfect” stethoscope from the get go.

Posted in LiFe, Nursing School, organizing, Stress Prevention

Management of the Older Adult

Med Surg 1 is a very in depth course where you pull in pathophysiology and health assessment and apply it. It can be very intimidating. At least I was EXTREMELY intimidated with this course. Still, I MADE IT!

I have attached a few study guides that helped me throughout this course. Each one organized slightly different for people that study differently.

GOOD LUCK!

Study Guides for Exam 1

Respiratory & Peri-operative

Assessment & Pneumothorax
Tension Pneumothorax
Tuberculosis (TB)
Peri-operative
Intra-operative
Discharge Criteria

Study Guides for Exam 2

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Acute Coronary Syndrome
STEMI vs NSTEMI
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)
Need to Know Drugs

Study Guides for Exam 3

GI & Musculoskeletal

GI & Musculoskeletal

Final Exam Review

Inflammatory & Structural Disorders
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Acute Arterial Ischemic Disorder
Valvular Heart Disorder
Posted in LiFe, Nursing School, organizing, Stress Prevention

Maternal Newborn

Alright, I’m so excited! I received a request for a maternal newborn post so I scavenged up some of my study guides to help gear studying.

I too had a difficult time with the course. Not because of a quarantine but because of a couple snow days caused me to miss class. And if anyone knows anything about nursing school it’s the fact that missing a couple classes puts you pretty far behind. So, I will help as much as I possibly can! I passed the course with a B so here it goes 🤓. I have also attached a downloadable document of my study guides. In addition, I added an extra little study aid for the exams.

TIPS:

  • Adapt to your class
    • There’s some classes I’ve taken and I didn’t have time to rewrite my notes. So I had to come up with other idea (more to come).
  • Highlight!!! Honestly, the more color (sensible color) the better I remember what I wrote.
  • Underline – if something helps your member a term or a concept, underline it. If that’s not enough put it into it’s own separate HIGHLIGHTED box.
  • I sometimes have a difficult time remember the “umbrella concept.” So, I make sure to underline the main subject so that clicks in my mind instead of getting confused later down the road
  • TAKE BREAKS!
    • My fiancé has to remind me after 2 hours to take a break. Set a timer, ANYTHING. Your brain is not going to take in anymore information after that amount of time.
  • Go back over notes 2-3 times before exam.

Exam 1 Study Guide

Another Study Aid/Guide: Exam 1

Study Guide Exam 2

Another Study Aid/Guide: Exam 2

I hope even a small amount of this information helps someone. It helped me.

Final Exam

My final exam was cumulative, so I recommend going back over the previous study guides. However, I have also attached a full final exam study guide.

Know How to Calculate an Apgar Score

GOOD LUCK!!

Posted in LiFe, organizing, Quarantined Boredom, Stress Prevention

Quarantine Boredom

I keep seeing people post things on social media about how bored they are. So, I thought I’d write a post about how I’m keeping myself from boredom during this interesting, new, and scary quarantine time.

Planting

I haven’t had too much of a green thumb before but I have also not been stuck at home for weeks on end. So, there’s a lot of NEW going around. So, not only am I keeping myself busy (as someone who is going into nursing, I like to take care of things) but I’m also providing herbs for my fiancé and me. I’m growing them they way I would like to see them grown.

Day 1

I currently only have 1 little green leaf growing in the Arugula but let me say, “I AM PROUD OF THAT LITTLE LEAF! I did it. I grew that! And as that green leaf grows so does my green thumb and so does my excitement. I will continue to give updates on how these herbs are growing but in the mean time; this is how I started my indoor herb garden.

Indoor Herb Garden Materials

  • MASON JARS – However many herbs you want to plant
    • 16 oz 24 pack
    • Amazon link below (click the picture)
  • LABELS
    • Don’t forget what you’ve planted!
    • I wrote on mine with a silver sharpie and used labels I had laying around the house
    • I did add similar ones I found on Amazon, below (click the picture)
  • SMALL ROCKS any type of small rock will work)
    • I made sure to rinse my rocks (you’re going to be eating the herbs that grow with them)
    • Fill the jar about 1-2 in
    • Amazon link below (click the picture)
  • ORGANIC HERB POTTING MIX
    • Fill the far until just before the lid rim
    • INSERT SEED – follow seed directions (make sure they can be indoor and in a small pot)
      • Add potting mix and fill to the top of mason jar
    • Amazon link below (click the picture)
    • I read this one was one of the best (affordable) pitting mixes out there
    • The potting mis
  • HERBS (I chose basil, rosemary, arugula, and oregano)
    • I’ve also thought about doing cat nip
    • I purchased all of my herbs at Home Depot

Herb Care

Day 10

Tiny Green Arugula Leaf

Water

I’ve been watering my herb garden daily, just enough water to fill the top of the mason jar. I’m only giving them a small amount of water each day making sure the potting mix stays moist.

Sunshine

I also set my herbs outside when it’s nice and sunny so they can get some the sun’s vitamins

Green Thumb or Boredom?

Green thumb vs boredom I’m not sure I have a green thumb just yet, but I’m trying and I’m excited to continue posting my progress. This little plant has given me something to do, something new to try, herbs to eat (we’ll see). So, I’d say this is a pretty good way to fight boredom.

Posted in LiFe, Nursing School, organizing, Stress Prevention

Staying strong

This past week I had two exams, back to back. I had health assessment Monday and patho physiology Tuesday. So, the weekend prior I studied for both tests. I will admit I studied for my health assessment class a bit more thoroughly. However, that doesn’t mean I excluded my patho physiology test material I needed for Tuesday. I felt as though I needed to spend more time preparing for health assessment because I do not know the material as well as I feel I know patho. Rationally, I spent 2/3 of my time on health assessment and 1/3 on patho. I also attended a study session for patho, needless to say I didn’t neglect it (nor am I encouraging to neglect one subject over another). It all about time management.

The health assessment exam went well, I felt good about the material I know and I was able to work through most of the questions I struggled with. Patho however, I failed. While taking the test I remember thinking, “I feel good about this exam, I know this material like the back of my hand.” Next thought, “stop, every time I think that I don’t do well on the exam.” I didn’t listen to that thought as much. I know the material that was on that exam, possibly too well. After going through the questions I got wrong I realized a few things. I need to cover the answers while I read the question.

Rationale: I was creating ways the wrong answers could be correct by going down a rabbit hole. Everyone with a type of test anxiety knows what I’m talking about. When you think to yourself, “ok if I have someone who is respiratory acidosic, their kidneys will start to compensate because even though they’re probably hyperventilating……. and it keeps going and going until I’ve made it possible for just about every answer to be correct when all the question was asking was, “if someone’s CO2 is low what is happening,” they’re hyperventilating.

So, I made my exam so much harder on myself and failed it because it wasn’t that hard. Why? Because I know the material so I wasn’t taking the time to read what the question was actually asking for, because I “already knew the answer,” to a question that wasn’t even being asked.

TAKE YOUR TIME.