I can't believe it. No, I really can't believe it. Nursing school is done. Finished. Gone for good. It felt like the longest journey while going through it but now that it is over it feels like it all happened in the blink of an eye.
I will reflect on my final weeks of nursing school...
Our first exit exam was the dreaded comprehensive HESI. A HESI exam is death. I would rather have a lumbar puncture, colonoscopy, and be stuck with a needle 22 times, all while being conscious, than go through the feeling of this test. Sounds dramatic, I know. But I guess you just have to be in the situation to know how bad they really are. It's not your average standardized weekly test. It's not even like the SATs. It's a million times worse and there is so much pressure put on them I get sick to my stomach just writing about it! This particular exam was a mock state board. It was a test that will show the school if we know everything to be a safe ( and smart) nurse. It was 180 questions. And if you didn't pass there was a long list of remediations that had to take place before the school would consider you fit to graduate. Thankfully, I passed. But it was the longest test of my life and I'm pretty sure I will have heart failure at an early age due to what this school has done to me with these exams!
The next week was our last set of simulation exams. I was not as fearful for these as the first set but the unexpected is still a little frightening. We had great instructors grading us and my clinical group has become a family, so we all encouraged each other through it. On the first day I was lucky to have Brooke as my CNA during my scenario. She had been with me before on the previous set and we work well together. My patient had experienced a seizure in the scene before and for my turn she went into delirium from her medication. I did my assessment, called the doc, got the orders, and gave her IV push sedative all while this poor patient screamed at me, " The cops are coming for my kids! Kids! Why are there kids all over the place! Get me outta here! There are spiders on the wall! Kill them! Kill them!" I'm not sure how Brooke and I didn't bust up laughing! The best feeling was injecting her med and watching her slowly calm down and become re-oriented to her surroundings. Simulation accomplished! =)
I wish I could say the next day was as wonderful but it started off bad. On our very last day we were given the most brutal, the hardest, and just plain nastiest instructor who believes she owns simulation and all there is to it. We all did our best and pumped each other up despite wanting to either cry or kick something! During my scene I was charting and my patient began seizing. It's amazing what simulation does to me. I went into full blown nursing mode. The rest of the world faded away and that mannequin who was convulsing, drooling, and lifeless on the bed became a real person and it was up to me to ensure her safety, her airway, and her overall well being. Lillian was my CNA and she rocked it! We quick turned her to her side, suctioned her away, and got her hooked up to O2 in a matter of 20 seconds. It was pretty awesome. After a thorough neuro assessment, I called the doc, got new orders, and pushed another IV med to give her a slight sedative. Even though she was a dummy, even though my teacher didn't run in the room to hug me afterwards like Prof. Bosveld had done, it still felt good. 1. Because it was the last simulation for school that I would have to do. 2. Because I acted on instinct and I intervened in a way that helped and benefited my patient. It gave me a boost of confidence for if the situation presented itself to me in real life, I would just naturally bounce into action.
Finally, last week was our very last exit exam for Advanced Med-Surg. I should have started studying in December for this test. But Sunday rolled around and I was still finding excuses to not really sit down and hit the books. By Tuesday morning when it was test time, I was feeling a little apprehensive and thinking I maybe should have put more effort into it. This would be my last exam at WCU. If passed, school was done. That's it. Everything I had worked for since I was 20 years old all boiled down to this test. Holy freaking moly!
We were a reck waiting to walk in. We were a reck when assigned a computer. We were a reck when the screen popped up that said, "Begin now". There was a point at question 25 of 55 that I thought I was failing. I could feel myself getting choked up but than I gave myself the usual pep talk of, " I AM a good nurse. I AM smart. I DO KNOW my material" and than I kept going. People finished before me. I was sitting in the front row so I saw them all leave. Some had tears on their cheeks. Did they pass? Did they fail? Were those happy tears or sad tears? I clicked my last answer and waited for my score to pop up. I needed an 850 to pass. There is was. Right in front of me. A 964. Passed! That's it. School is done. I did it. Trav and I did it. Done. As I was staring at my screen I realized it was getting blurry and than I felt the tears on my cheeks. Done. I can't even tell you that feeling.
As I walked out wiping my eyes I caught my friend Marilyn's eye at her computer. She gave me the look of, " Did you?". I smiled and nodded than mouthed," You got this" before walking out. I was greeted by hugs from friends who were waiting. Emotions were high. People might think it's silly that we were crying but this program was tough. We all gave up an awful lot to get through it. We have all given up an awful lot over the years to get to this point. And now it was here. Done. Finished. Goodbye WCU....hello state boards!