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How to Pass the NCLEX

First, give yourself a huge pat on the back for even making it this far! Passing nursing school is extremely difficult and not for everyone. The last step in achieving the ultimate goal (being a legit NURSE!!) is to pass the dreaded NCLEX test. Let me give you some pointers that I used in order to make this happen. Trust me, I was anxious and crazy before, during, and after the test too. It is totally normal!

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1. Practice, practice, practice

There are books and websites where you can go to just to practice answering the types of questions that are on the test. It sometimes is not even about the information, but the WAY it is written. Practicing answering the types of questions you will get will help to better prepare you and make it easier to answer them. Sometimes there will be even a similar question that comes up on the real exam too.

2. Don’t overthink it

There are so many questions that we think are trying to trip us up, only to realize that it was as simple as it was stated. Just look at the facts of the question and make a straight-forward answer. Not all questions are worded in a way to make you over-analyze.

3. Get a study buddy or study group

During nursing school and when I was studying for the NCLEX I found it helpful to get together with a friend and discuss topics we had trouble with. We would explain different topics to one another or ask each other questions in order to really get the information imbedded into our brains. It also helps to know that you are not alone in this and may help to boost your confidence!

4. Don’t focus all your time on stuff you already know

I had a hard time with this! It is easy and rewarding to go over information that you know already, and it is fine to do this to keep it fresh in your mind. But all your time does not need to be focused on the topics you already have conquered.

One way to do this is to dedicate specific days and times to whatever the topic is you are struggling with and just focus on that topic. Don’t try to focus on too many new/complicated things in one day.

5. Schedule your test close to graduation

I have found that people who scheduled their exam more than a few months, 6 months, or even a year out from their graduation had a much harder time in passing. Not only that but some had to take it several times, or maybe didn’t ever pass at all. Set a date for a month or two from when you are done school and use that time to prepare yourself while the information is freshest in your mind.

6. Don’t analyze how well you are doing by how many questions you are getting

Some people get 75 questions and some people get all 265. I got all 265, while my study-buddy got the minimum of 75. It doesn’t matter how many you get, just as long as you answer each question with intention. Try not to look at the number or amount of time you have invested, just keep going one question at a time.

7. Take a test-prep course

I took the Kaplan test-prep course, which I found to be extremely helpful. Our school did offer this course for us so we did not really have a choice, but I know many others who have taken it on their own and have found great success with it.

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In closing, please be sure to remember that YOU CAN DO THIS! If you passed nursing school, anything is possible. This is the last hurdle before making your dreams come true. Do everything you can to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

🙂

If you would like to know more information you can find me on many different podcast platforms, including Apple and Spotify at :

anchor.fm/danielle-jones01

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Making the most of your time

I am the type of person that can never sit still. I feel like there are always 1,000 things to do and no time to get them all done. What I have learned over time is how to cram in as much as possible throughout my days to make free time for later on. Now this may not sound very admirable, but for me it makes me feel like I am superhuman some days. Here are some tips and tricks I use on the daily.

  1. Walk the long way into work / take the stairs. It helps to get some extra steps in for the day without really correlating it with exercise.
  2. Get up frequently from your desk. Staying sedentary is not great for you and really doesn’t give you any energy either. It honestly makes me feel more tired. Throughout my days I try to at least stand up every hour, stretch, squat, do jumping jacks, take a quick walk, or just do my work while standing for a little while. This too adds some extra movement in for the day, and trust me, it adds up.
  3. Make phone calls during your drive to or from work (safely of course) or listen to a podcast. When I know I am going to be sitting in traffic or in the car for a long time I try to make calls to either friends, family, or bills I need to go over/have questions about. Sometimes I even put on a podcast or audio book of something interesting and I feel like I am being productive!
  4. Do your grocery shopping online! It takes up so much time to go to the grocery store. Why not fill your cart in the luxury of your home, or while on break at work, or when standing in line somewhere. I have found it so much easier this way and have saved hours and hours of time by shopping online. The best part is you can either get them delivered (for an extra fee) or schedule a time to pick them up (I do it on my way home from work).
  5. Prep your food for a couple of days ahead of time, or make grab and go healthy meals/snacks to make life easier throughout the week. Sometimes when I do this I put on my favorite show or watch the news on my phone which kills two birds with one stone!
  6. I also like to fold and put away laundry while watching something I enjoy. Laundry is probably my least favorite task, but this makes it much more enjoyable.

There are plenty of ways to get the most out of your time, you just have to get creative! Use the little minutes you have here and there to get done anything you can and you will feel so accomplished each day!

Daily Fuel

Often times it is a struggle to get motivated to do all the things that are expected of you in a day. Usually there are not enough hours in the day to get it all done, either. There needs to be some sort of energy that helps to fuel the fire. I am going to discuss how I get motivated to do all I do, day in and day out.

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+ Morning Fuel

Getting up in the morning requires more effort at times than others. Usually the kids are waking me up whining or fighting about something and that really gets me going. But when I start my day I try to remember that it can be restarted at any time I want. I often talk my way through having a good day. I tell myself and my kids, “Today is going to be a great day,” or “Let’s start over and try and enjoy today”. I ask them, “What’s our goal for today?”. They reply, “Be nice to others and stay positive”. A little positive talk can be good for the spirit. Sometimes “faking it until you make it” is what you need to do.

+ Prepare for Battle

The thought of going to work can be daunting, especially after you just spent an hour or maybe two hours bribing little people to get their shoes on or to brush their teeth, and then listen to them fight the whole way to school. Most days you have already fought a war before you have even begun working. On my way to work I like to put on a podcast, call a friend or family member, or listen to some music to get my mind back in order. Some days I need to pray to myself in my car in order to get into a good headspace.

+ Make Work Worth It

While at work there can be many things that make the day feel impossible. It’s worth it to remember why you are there in the first place. Being a nurse can be such a thankless job and many patients or family members are very upset about their current situations, taking it out on you, the nurse of course. Remembering why you became a nurse can be helpful. I know I love to think of how much I helped someone and take any little reassurance I can to keep me going on throughout the day.

Keeping a positive attitude even through the tough moments can pay you back later on. There have been times that a patient or family member has been rude or mean to me and I continued to do what I needed to do without reacting negatively. I try to also remember how much they are going through and it gives me the strength to keep going. Often times the rude or mean patient or family member comes back to me at a later time thanking me for being so patient and kind to them.

+ Thrive on the Learning Experiences

Something else that helps me to continue on as a nurse and a mother for that matter is the continuous learning process through my journey. Being a nurse has the endless reward of learning something new all the time. I am the type of person that can get bored pretty easily, especially when it comes to a job, so the opportunity to learn new things continuously is a great gift of being a nurse. It goes the same for being a mom. Throughout my children’s lives I get to watch them go from one life stage to the next, and I am constantly learning how to deal with new situations or looking up what I can do to build them up and to deal with different life stages.

+ Remember the Big Picture

You don’t have to schlep it forever. If you want to get out of the daily grind of lifting patients and all of the dirty work that comes with nursing, you can put in your time and then look for a new niche in nursing. The great thing about being a nurse is that there are almost endless possibilities of things you can do with your degree. You may have to put in the time in the beginning and get your floor experience, but it is great knowledge that can set you up to find a specialty that you prefer.

+ Self Care Isn’t Selfish

The last thing I want to mention is the need for self care. Although I am a busy mom and a nurse, I still need to make time for a hot shower, a workout (even if it is in my living room), and some girl time. Over the years I have realized that if I do not fill up my spirit in one of those ways at least weekly, I can easily get overwhelmed and sucked into the negativity of life. Keeping up on self care keeps me grounded and prepares me to be a better person overall, whether it is nursing or being a mother.

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Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is a HUGE problem when working in the nursing field. Being a nurse you are constantly pulled in a million different directions and people are constantly calling your name, so much so that you often think you should change your name. At least that’s how I have felt before. There is never a chance to stop, sit down, walk away, or anything of the sorts. It can get physically and emotionally draining.

So how do we deal with this dilemma?!

I have found it extremely important over the years to use some simple tools to battle the caregiver burnout and try to stop it before it happens. Although I do know sometimes it is just inevitable.

1. Exercise

This is personally my number one “Go to”. Exercise for me is like an escape from reality. I know it is probably hard to think about doing another thing that is physically demanding, but even working out a few times a week can completely change your perspective in life. Not to mention that exercise releases endorphins that are chemically proven to boost mood.

2. Do something you enjoy

If you ever get a second of downtime (which I know can be hard), make sure to pencil in some time for yourself. This can be as simple as meditating for 5 minutes in the morning, participating in a hobby you love, or spending time with friends or family. It puts things into perspective and may get you out of your head for a little while.

3. Take breaks

If you feel overwhelmed you can push yourself to the point where you get into a completely negative mental state. This is something that nurses most of the time never do, I know. Easy for me to say in this post to just take a break when your getting pulled from one room to the next, but all I mean is ATTEMPT to plan your day where you can step away for 5-10 minutes. If and when you take that break, don’t talk about work, don’t think about work, make a phone call to a friend, put on some music, eat, pee, etc. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

4. Pray

Whether you are religious or not, try to find something you believe in that you can pray or talk to. It does not have to be God or whatever, but just some sort of higher power that you can lean on. Sometimes I just talk to myself in the car on my way to work and ask whatever it may be to give me strength to get through a shift, to help people throughout my day, to do my best, and to not be too hard on myself or others. Whatever you want to say you can say. It is a safe zone. Sometimes just getting out the words out loud can have a powerful effect you never thought it could.

5. Blast some music or meditate

Many people like to meditate in order to de-stress. My outlet is music a lot of times. On the way to work or my way home I blast some music and sing in my car, and it completely takes me to another planet. I find it extremely gratifying and freeing to make it loud enough to drown out my own thoughts.

6. Take a vacation

Whether you plan to go somewhere exotic, or just stay at home, it is important to use that time you have accrued. In the past and even recently I have found it hard to just schedule that time off. I would always just take one or 2 days and have a long weekend or something, but I think I have realized it is important to take a true break to recover. Taking care of people is a huge responsibility and even caregivers need a chance to breathe. Don’t worry, the stress and work will still be there when you get back. Give yourself a break!

Finding your Niche

As a new nurse I always dreamed of the fast-paced ER or ICU setting where things were always exciting and there was always some sort of chaos going on. In reality that is not how nursing actually is. Most of the time in a clinical setting such as a hospital or long term care facility, from my experience, most days were filled with medication administration and cleaning people up after they were incontinent.

Pretty early on I realized that clinical nursing was not what I always thought it would be. Yes, there is some of that chaos every once in awhile, but most of the day is filled with a very long list of tasks that need to get done and people calling your name every second.

After some experience in a few different settings I honestly am still trying to find what my niche is in nursing. In my experience, finding your niche involves trying new things, which is why I bounce around in jobs. I have been in long term care, skilled nursing facilities, a hospital Med-Surg floor, Long term acute care, and now I am a clinical liaison in a hospital. I would say that all of those jobs taught me everything I need to know, when I needed to know it. Each experience showed me things I like and things I don’t like about nursing, which ultimately will help me find what fits best for me.

Finding your niche involves:

+ Doing your research

+ Trying new opportunities

+ Asking others who have experience

+ Finding what you are interested in and going for it

+ Taking a risk to try it out, even it is not what you intended it to be

+ Don’t settle

+ Know your strengths and weaknesses

+ Don’t make decisions based on fear

+ Keep positive and strive to be your best

I think it is important to start somewhere and make the most of it. If you don’t like it after all, you’re a nurse you can find something else that fits better. It is important in the beginning to take the best opportunities you can find. It can be discouraging if you do not get into the exact field you want to right away, but you can always take something from every experience you have. I truly believe that my path in nursing so far happened as it was supposed to and I learned something from each specialty.

Work – Life Balance

Work and life balance is something that everyone wants to achieve. You want to feel good about the work you do, but you also don’t want work to take over your whole life. So what do you do? Here are some steps that may help you find that balance you are wishing for.

1. Let go

You cannot do everything! Yes, you want to be successful, be a great mom, a great nurse, an athlete, a health freak, a homeschool teacher for your kids, a DIY professional, and everything else. It is just unrealistic. Let go of the unrealistic expectations you put on yourself and give yourself a break.

2. Make every moment count

Although many people say that multi-tasking is not possible, I disagree when it comes to being a mom and a nurse. Anyone that doesn’t know, is not a mom or a nurse obviously. Multi-tasking is sometimes what we as mothers and nurses HAVE To do. But there is an efficient way of doing it.

When you are driving to and from work, listen to that podcast you wanted to, or make that call you had to make and get it out of the way. While you are making dinner, send the kids on a fun “mission” to find all of their belongings around the house and put them away or see who can get the table ready the fastest. Wash the dishes while you are on a phone call. If you are waiting for your dog to do his thing in the yard, do 10 squats or pushups, or go for a walk on your lunch break. Order groceries to be delivered to your house to save time on going to the store.

These are just some things you can do without even thinking to make your life so much easier. If you incorporate little things into your normal routine you are maximizing your time!

3. Make YOU time

Make time for you. Whatever you like to do, it is important to incorporate that into your schedule, or else you probably won’t do it. Schedule dates in advance with friends, family, fun activities for you and your partner and worry about the details later. It is important to get those things on the books, because when the time comes and you don’t have it scheduled, you most likely will find other things that you “need” to do.

Promise yourself you are going to go for a walk, run, or even a short exercise even just a few times a week to boost your serotonin and your confidence. Eat healthy, but treat yourself sometimes too. Schedule that massage or facial you have been wanting to do for 3 years. Take a few minutes to walk away or actually take your lunch break to recoup.

4. Don’t procrastinate

Do not put things off until later unless you need to. You know they say, there is no better time than the present! Waiting until the last minute to do little things can put a lot of pressure on you later on, which can add stress that you simply don’t need. Get things done as soon as you can, and recruit others in your family to help you. Think of it as family bonding time.

At work, procrastination is definitely not a good idea. It leads to staying later hours, people getting angry because you haven’t gotten to them yet, and maybe your boss getting on you about it too.

5. Find a schedule that works for you and your family

If you can find a job with an alternate schedule that works for you and your family, do it. Don’t be afraid to continue to look for something else that will fit your needs better. If you can work remote, do it if it means more time with your family or no commute time. Maybe it will work better for you to only work three 12 hour shifts or four 10’s. Maybe your family will work better with you on night shift. It just depends on what you need. Discuss it with your partner or family and decide what works best. In my opinion it doesn’t hurt to look, especially if it will benefit you in your work and life balance.

My Motivation

My thoughts for today….

Have you ever felt stuck in a rut? You feel like there is so much more to life that you could give, but there’s not enough hours in the day? You are pulled in a million different directions, feel like you don’t have enough time to do all of the life things you need to do. This is me. Everyday.

I decided on a whim I was going to start this blog. I was not even really sure how to start it or what I was going to talk about. For weeks, months, years, I have been thinking about doing more things in my life, maybe things out of my comfort zone, or starting my own company, or doing something other than the same old mundane day to day job. It is hard to have these thoughts and not really know where to begin.

So, I told my husband I was thinking of starting a blog over the weekend, and he’s like “yea because you don’t have enough to do”. He is kind of right, but I am one of those people who feel they need to do more in life. I constantly push myself to the fullest potential I possibly can, which can be a blessing and a curse. For as long as I can remember I have been this way. I work full time, have two small children, family, friends, and am constantly thinking how can I add another thing to accomplish.

My main thoughts throughout every day are: how can I be more successful, help others, teach my children how to be great, and how can I make more money, but have more time at home. I know these are things that a lot of people strive for, but some do not have the motivation to take the steps to change anything.

Today I decided I am not going to sit still. If I have an urge to make a change in my life, I am going to risk it (as long as it’s practical), and I encourage you to do the same. What’s the worst that can happen?