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:, 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!

Work vs. Play for Early Childhood

Having an ECE background, I have become knowledgeable on the importance of play. With that said, I believe our society is becoming more and more fixated on the importance of intelligence which is apparently gained through worksheets, mathematical equations and letter recognition. More and more parents are expecting their children who have not yet turned three to be able to write numbers and letters with markers, identify all of the letters of the alphabet, spell their name and completing various math and literacy worksheets etc. What ever happened to good old fashioned fun? What many parents fail to realize is the ongoing learning that happens during play. Children learn to sort based on colour, organize connecting blocks into patterns, sequence objects from smallest to largest, count blocks they are using to build a tower etc. I think many parents overlook the many lessons children learn both on their own, with peers and with the guidance of their teachers.

More and more preschool programs are being introduced to programs such as Jolly Phonic and Handwriting Without Tears etc. I am not saying that such programs are not useful tools to learning literacy, however I don’t think they should replace play. When I was first introduced to the program Jolly Phonics in my first year placement in a Kindergarten classroom, I thought to myself, ”Wow! This is great! The children are learning so much and they are going to be so ahead of the game”. What I failed to consider, which a co-worker later pointed out, is that the children are indeed, ahead of the game. When entering grade one, parents returned to the centre expressing their gratitude for their children having learned so much, but their disappointment that they’re children have become bored as they are learning the same lessons they had learned the year before. An additional problem is that with boredom, in many cases, comes behavioural outbursts.

So what now? Can there be a balance between work and play? In my opinion, I think worksheets should be left until elementary school. Children need to learn how to interact with other children, how to share and how to engage in play. I believe this should come before learning our ABC’s and 123’s. I am not belittling the importance of academics, but I do believe early childhood should revolve around play and the learning that can come from playful experience. You’d be shocked at how many children don’t even know how to engage in play. Many children will wander the room aimlessly not sure of what to do or where to begin. Children need to learn the basics of play such as engaging in imaginative play, play with tangible materials and social play. So let’s put the worksheets aside for a moment and let our children do what they do (or are learning to do) best, play!

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Placement Diary One: A Step Up


A Step Up

I’m doing my fourth year placement which is the last credit required for my degree. While it still seems a very long way off, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I began my Social Work degree many years ago and basically, I had to give it up because there was no possible way to fit two placements and a full time job into my schedule. I was starting out in my career and had no status or power to ask for time off and even if I did, I could not afford to go to school full time and live on part time wages. When I finally decided at the ripe old age of 38 (!) that I wanted to pursue graduate work, I looked around at my options. I have a BA in English with average marks. The graduate program I wanted to get into doesn’t look at less than an A average. I did well in my Social Work studies but I had not completed my degree. So my strategy was to get as many academic credits with top marks as I could and then plead my case for graduate school. It never occurred to me that it would be possible to complete the placement portion of the degree.

Then it came time to apply for a third year placement and I decided to go through the process to see where it led and I was sent out to The Stop for an interview. I went to the interview because I think The Stop is such an amazing organization but it quickly became apparent that there was no way my schedule (work and two children, one of whom was two months old when I went for the interview) could stretch to fulfil the commitment so I turned it down. The next year I once again went through the placement process, completely dispirited and feeling like I was wasting my time. Through the combined efforts of a really supportive Third Year Placement Co-ordinator and very progressive placement setting who were willing to accommodate my schedule, I did my year at Queen West Community Health Centre. Over the course of the year, I gained first-hand experience with front line work in the perinatal program as well as program planning and facilitation experience in the parenting advocacy group. Throughout the process, I made some great contacts in the field and got good reviews.

When it came to the fourth year placement, the last credit of my degree, I was motivated to do whatever it took to put in the time-a yawning chasm of 556 hours-but I figured that would be at the expense of my choice of a placement setting. I went in to see someone at the school and they agreed that my options were going to be less than, well, choice. So I was really surprised to get an offer to interview at Social Planning Toronto, a really progressive research and advocacy group I’d read about often. Once again, I was lucky to find a Placement Supervisor who is flexible and supportive of my schedule for which I am very grateful. She let me choose my area of study from the studies they are working on (housing, recreation, poverty and education) so I chose to work with the group who are conducting research on the effects of cuts to arts and recreation funding in the TDSB on families. This study maps perfectly against my MEd application and draws on my prior career experience in the arts and my personal history as a parent. I did not expect to get hands-on research experience at the undergrad level and find myself once again very grateful for the opportunity and also thankful that I had such a great professor for the third year research course.

All positivity and optimism aside, this year is going to be an epic struggle We are on such a tight schedule there is no downtime and my husband is picking up a lot of the slack at home, where we normally share duties. I don’t see my children as much as I’d like to and because they are still so little, I feel really guilty about that and once the kids are down, I go straight back to work. That said, I know I am very lucky to have enough flexibility at both work and my placement to map together the hours required by each. I strongly feel that in order to be truly AOP, some of these barriers to, of all disciplines, Social Work education must be addressed for students. I do think, however, that the placement I am doing now will give me a step up to my future in education and I am really excited about that.


How to build a healthy school routine

Hello everyone! Welcome to a new school year at Ryerson University. My name is Cristina and I am a Registered Dietitian and now a Graduate Student! I am taking the MHSc in Nutrition Communications here at Ryerson in order to improve upon my skills and knowledge in the interpretation and dissemination of nutrition information.

I am also looking forward to writing for the FCS Student Blog and sharing my experiences with you. I wanted to start off blogging about how to build a healthy school routine. With all of the commitments that students have to juggle, I find that making a conscious decision to create a healthy school routine is an important part of being a successful student. Here are some tips that have helped me over the years:

Using an agenda is essential for your school routine.

Use an agenda

Keeping track of your life is so much easier when you have an agenda! For me, an agenda is a critical thing. I simply don’t remember a thing unless it’s written down in my agenda. Add things like:

  • Assignment due dates
  • Exam dates
  • Your job shifts
  • School holidays and breaks

Don’t forget to schedule in:

  • Group work meetings
  • Appointments with professors or counsellors

I also use my agenda to:

  • Write reminders to myself (i.e. go see the librarian, go to the dentist)
  • Block off studying and research time
  • Remind myself of other commitments like a get-together with friends

Using an agenda allows you to get a ‘bird’s eye’ view of everything you have on-the-go and help you plan well. And planning is a skill you’ll need forever!

Make your lunch

As a busy student, it’s easy to grab a bagel and coffee for lunch, but you deserve more than that! The greatest lunch invention is Tupperware. With it, you can bring almost any lunch to school. Double up your portions so you’ll have 2 ready-made lunches. Work once, eat twice. Some great lunch options include a tuna sandwich with cucumber slices, banana peppers and light mayo on whole grain bread, a big salad with a leftover piece of salmon and crushed up torilla chips and a grilled chicken breast with roasted yams, carrots and onions. Yum! My favourite.

Stay physically active

Don’t let your hectic routine stop you from taking care of yourself. Studies show that even 10 minutes of physical activity at a time has health benefits. Aim for 2 1/2 hours of physical activity per week where you heart rate is up and you are breathing heavy. My favourite way to get active is to walk indoors or out. You could walk the quad or around the Eaton Centre, just be sure not to stop for some shopping!

Take home message

School can be tough and overwhelming. Making a conscious decision to build healthy routines into your life will go a long way. Good luck!