2nd Annual Nursing Networking Night: From Graduation to Occupation

On Monday. February 22, 2016 – 6pm – 9pm – I had the opportunity to attend the second annual Nursing Network Night at Ryerson University – “From Graduation to Occupation”, hosted by the Nursing Course Union and Canadian Nursing Students Association (NCU-CNSA). This event began last year as a way to engage nursing students at Ryerson to be more involved, engaged, and take initiative in their career and professional development. It turned out to be highly successful in 2015 and garnered a lot of positive feedback from attendees. So this year, they announced their second event in order to continue encouraging nursing students at Ryerson to facilitate a smooth transition from graduation to occupation.

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The evening began with a few words of welcome from representatives from both NCU and CNSA. Then we jumped straight into a few words from a representative at Ryerson’s Career Centre, who shed some light on the basics of Networking. She was able to teach us the ins and outs of the process of networking – the do’s and don’ts, and the how to’s. She was also there to advocate and speak for the resource available on campus that is Ryerson’s Career Centre. The Career Centre is a highly valuable resource for Ryerson Students when in the pursuit if a job or to help facilitate an easier transition post-graduation to work and career life. They help students with things like making the ideal cover letter and resume, building your LinkedIn profile, interview tips and practice, etc. If you’re ever in need for great ways to build and improve your professional self, you can find Ryerson’s Career Centre at POD60 (located just below The Hub).

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After the presentation from Ryerson’s Career Centre, a couple of speakers who were Ryerson Nursing Alumni, spoke about their own personal stories and their journeys. They shed some light and inspiration as they talked about the different ways in which they were able to reach their goals of becoming an registered nurse (RN). This portion of the evening was especially helpful for the nursing student attendees as we were able to truly relate to these alumni, knowing that not too long ago, they, too, were in the same situation that we currently are in. Their stories of their journeys were captivating, motivating, and inspiring. It truly highlighted how personal the process is of becoming an RN and how nursing students can better prepare themselves for not just a job, but a long-lasting and fulfilling career.

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After the presentation from the alumni speakers, the evening moved forward to the dinner, graciously supplied by Chipotle.

After dinner was the highlight of the night: the Q&A panel. NCU-CNSA was able to get nursing managers from the major hospitals in the downtown to represent each hospital organization, and answer any questions we may have. The nursing managers and representatives came from Michael Garron Hospital (formerly known as TEGH – Toronto East General Hospital), UHN (University Health Network – comprised of Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre), and The Hospital for Sick Children. The line up of panellists truly excited the nursing students in the room – the majority of whom eager to work for such established and world-renowned organizations. The Q&A panel was the opportunity of the night to ask any and every question running through every nursing student’s mind.

“What is the ideal candidate for you?”

“What kinds of people do you prefer to hire – internal or external applicants?”

“What are the different kinds of interviews you conduct?”

“Do you hire applicants prior to completion of graduation and/or NCLEX examination?”

“How do you build a strong mentor relationship?”

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Needless to say, the Q&A of highly experienced registered nurses in executive positions within the most renowned hospitals in the country, did nothing short of answering each questions with clarity and efficiency. Not only did they answer questions well to the highest degree, they also offered valuable insight and advice as to how to begin your career as an RN. They were more than generous with their time and their thoughts on how to transition from a nursing student, graduate nursing student, to RN. The panellists were gracious and true role models for each nursing student attendee in the room.

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The night was a great success, as anticipated! Everything went smoothly, all in attendance enjoyed themselves, and nursing students were able to connect with their peers and their prospective employers. We learned how to market ourselves in the health care industry, how to appeal to employers and organizations, and how to prepare ourselves for the near future.

The NCLEX-RN Prep. Presentation by Dr. Pat Bradley

On Monday, January 18, 2016, I attended the NCLEX-RN Preparatory Presentation, hosted by RNAO (Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario), with Dr. Pat Bradley. The NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse) examination is a license examination that nursing students take after receiving their BScN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), in order to gain their professional license as an RN and be able to practice professionally. Once a nursing student has received their BScN degree and passed the NCLEX-RN examination, then – AND ONLY THEN – can they officially call themselves… a registered nurse. This is the professional title that hundred and thousands of undergraduate nursing students, at universities across North America, spend four good years studying and longing for. Being one of these students myself (and with the prospect of having to take this scary, scary exam in the next year looming over my head), I attended this event with the hopes of gaining some helpful advice, tips, and clarification.

The event was held at POD463A/B with Dr. Pat Bradley delivering the presentation. It was a quite a content-heavy and informative 2 hours (from 4pm – 6pm), where Dr. Pat Bradley picked apart the NCLEX-RN exam for a group of scared and equally eager third and fourth year Ryerson nursing students. Dr. Pat Bradley was thorough, helpful, and quite clear. Having a background as an NCLEX-RN item writer, faculty member of York University’s nursing program, and much experience in delivering similar preparatory presentations for the NCLEX across North America, she was able to clarify any myths, direct students to reliable study sources, and go over exam structure and content with great accuracy and honesty.

With many fourth years in attendance, students were very attentive, engaged, and involved throughout the event. Nerves were at an all-time high for every student in the room and the pressure was on for every professor in attendance to prepare their students for this “Be All End All” exam. Luckily for us students, we were given some extremely valuable information that will hopefully stick with us until it comes to Dooms Day… or in our case, NCLEX-RN exam day. If you are an upper level nursing student and were unable to attend this presentation, I will tell you some of the most valuable tips that the presenter shared with the attendees of this event.

#1: STUDY THE NCSBN DETAILED TEST PLAN FOR 2016. YOU MUST KNOW THIS PDF DOCUMENT INSIDE AND OUT. This document (here’s the link: https://www.ncsbn.org/2016_RN_Test_Plan_Candidate.pdf, you’re welcome) is your Holy Grail for this exam – it contains every component, every detail, every aspect about the NCLEX-RN exam so it’s safe to say that this document is not something you just “browse.” The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) are the people responsible for creating this licensing exam, and other licensing exam for alike nurses. They are the “Masters of NCLEX,” if you will. So they’re pretty much the most reliable source you can go to for any NCLEX-related information. Trust anything and everything they say – and this document says it all. Know it.

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#2: Despite the valuable nursing theory and community health concepts we learn during nursing school… this entire exam is completely BIOMEDICAL. This means that all those theories we learned, all of those community nursing concepts we learned, have an extremely slim chance of making it into this exam… and percentage of this type of content popping up is around 1% or less. This is highly in contrast with the past Canadian RN licensing exam (Canadian Registered Nurse Examination [CRNE]), which focused heavily on such content. There is significantly a lot more biological and physiological concepts on the NCLEX-RN, so make sure that you’re studying the right content. Refer to the NCSBN test plan for more specific detail on the concepts that will be tested.

#3: Due to the fact that the NCLEX being an American-based exam, any lab values or medication measurements on the exam will be both AMERICAN & CANADIAN values. This means that as Canadian nurses writing an American licensing exam, we are entitled to know and memorize both the metric and imperial measurement systems. This seems unfair and quite frankly, very annoying, but if we study well enough, we’ll probably thank ourselves for it in the long run. Therefore, on the exam, if it mentions a weight that’s in KGs (metric), you must also be able to convert that weight into LBs (imperial).

To all fourth year nursing students at Ryerson who are taking the NCLEX-RN in the coming months, I wish you all the luck in the world! Study hard, study well, and stay focused and motivated. You’ve almost made it. All you need is that license. Have confidence in your abilities and yourself; you’re going to be great registered nurses!

National Nursing Student Week 2015

National Nursing Students Week is an annual event, hosted by the Canadian Nursing Students Association [CNSA], that occurs in November intended to celebrate nursing students nation-wide in their hard work and accomplishments. It is an opportunity that allows the achievement so of nursing students throughout Canada to be showcased to the community. This year, National Nursing Student Week was from November 15th – November 21st. Each year, there is a significant theme chosen for National Nursing Student Week that reflects the nursing student population and nursing in general. This year’s theme is “Nursing the Mind,” with an emphasis on the importance of self-care amongst all nursing students.

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It is no secret that nursing as a post-secondary program of study is competitive, rigorous, and extremely demanding, to say the least. Not only do nursing students face upwards of 20-25+ hours of school hours a week, on top of a heavy course load, they must also complete anywhere from 6-24+ clinical placement hours a week as well. Overall, it is quite a difficult program, making it quite easy for nursing students to overlook their own self-care and well-being. Nursing students are easily overwhelmed with their work and with school, solely focused on the care of others, making it ironic for them to neglect their own health. This week’s theme helps to emphasize the importance for nursing students to consider their own health and wellness as a top priority as well.

While it is important to work hard and be dedicated in school, it is also equally as important to take care of yourself and make time to ensure that your needs are met. That is the focus for this year’s National Nursing Student Week. The goal for this past week was to take some time out of a nursing student’s day to relax, de-stress, and do something they genuinely enjoy. Some suggestions include, but are not limited to, taking a walk for a few minutes, sitting down and catching up with some friends, reading a book, etc. This advice can even extend towards all students because it is evident that a lack of self-care is an issue that is consistent amongst a student population.

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Ryerson has celebrated National Nursing Students Week on an annual basis as Ryerson has its own chapter of CNSA. Ryerson’s chapter of CNSA conducted a variety of events in the past week to celebrate National Nursing Students Week. Some of the events included offering free snacks for nursing students on campus, information on mental health and self-care, opportunities to relax and enjoy other nursing students’ company in the nursing lounge, etc. With the focus being self-care, the events were centred on ways in which nursing students could find the time throughout their day to relax and rest; give themselves the opportunity to re-charge and clear their busy heads.
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Being a nursing student at Ryerson in my third year, I am all too familiar with the chaos and intensity that accompanies my program. I have experienced the large number of demands that being a nursing student calls for and more often than I’d like to admit, I have overlooked my own needs in order to meet my academic and career needs. For a long time, I found it very difficult to find the time to allow my mind and body to rest and simply enjoy myself. This past National Nursing Students week has allowed me to reflect on what I can do to enhance my self-care practices in the future. It has taught me that relaxation and rest is very necessary in every individual’s life and that no matter how busy your day may be, there is always time for you to pause and rest. I have learned that while my academic and career goals are a priority and something I need to be working very diligently to accomplish, my own health and wellness is also a priority. I am more than just a nursing student, I am also a young person who enjoys life and wants to experience everything that life offers. I want to stop overlooking the joyous things in life and allow myself to take a break once in awhile. National Nursing Student Week 2015 has taught me that no matter how demanding and how stressful life may seem, there is always time in the day – whether that be 5 minutes or an hour – to take care of yourself, and your own health and wellness. As a nursing student, I have the responsibility to care for others – as well as myself.