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!

4 Tips To Tackle Stress This Exam Season

Happy end of the term classes to all Ryerson students! Today marks the final day of classes for all students across campus, which unfortunately also marks the beginning of finals week for this semester. Stress levels are high and the campus is filled with scrambling student, all attempting to gather all necessary notes for all of their exams. Professors are finalizing exams and answering a million emails a minute, answering questions from stressed and nervous students. It is that time of the year when everyone is eager to delve into the holiday festivities, but also trying to find the best way to cope with and manage all the stress that comes with finals week and being a university student in general. It’s a happy but tough time of the year. Lucky for you, I have some tips that can maybe help you get through the stress, have you motivated for your exams, and ready for the holiday season!

TIP #1: COFFEE IN MODERATION

We all need our daily fix of Tim Hortons or Starbucks and when you’re a university student, it’s almost necessary. Coffee contains the magic C (CAFFEINE) that helps keep us alert for the day and focused for the lectures/labs/tutorials ahead. It’s especially helpful after an all-nighter spent studying, working on a project, or doing a paper (or perhaps simply getting lost in the world of Netflix…). Coffee is great – in moderation. Students tend to turn this “daily fix” during exam season to a “multiple times a day fix.” This can get dangerous and really impact your health negatively – it’ll send your heart rate through the roof, your blood pressure can be through the roof, your diet will be compromised – a lot can go wrong. Don’t over-do it with the coffee. It’s not something that you need to depend on to do well on your exams – your hard work and effort determines that for you. Limit yourself whenever possible and find other ways to stay away (i.e a cold shower in the morning, exercise, breakfast, etc).

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TIP #2: FIND A DESIGNATED STUDY SPOT

Finding a place to study and actually be productive is difficult. This is especially difficult in the middle of the busiest city in Canada – Toronto – where Ryerson is so centrally located. Luckily, we have the Student Learning Centre (SLC) to cater to our Study Spot Needs. First, it’s important that your study spot include a desk or a table of some sort to support whatever your study materials are. Avoid anything too small – the more space, the more room to support laptop, textbooks, notebooks, phone, etc. Second, try to find a bright space, perhaps anything with a big window or light coloured walls. Studying in a bright space with lots of light does a lot for your visual senses and makes it easier for you to sit somewhere for a prolonged period of time, staring at a bunch of words and/or numbers. It definitely lessens the load. Lastly, make sure your study spot is not confining. This means to make sure that the spot you choose allows you to get up once in awhile and move around. Not only does this gives you a break from sitting in a chair in front of your computer for hours, it also prevents any sores or muscle aches from happening, which comes with sitting still for hours. If you’re looking for the perfect study spot on campus, I definitely suggest the SLC (specifically floor 5! Not too eerie and quiet, but also quiet enough to give you some peace).

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TIP #3: DON’T FORGET YOUR DIET

Stress-eating can manifest in two ways: over-eating or under-eating. Some people can binge on junk food and resort to comfort food during such a stressful time. Some people can be so pre-occupied and busy that they may forget to eat and incorporate proper nutrition into their diet. It is important to find some sort of balance in your diet during exam season. Take comfort in moderation – have a donut here and there, get a Frappucino instead of your regular cup of coffee, get some ice cream. Also, it’s not the end of the world if you miss breakfast or have a late dinner. It is expected that your diet will not be at its healthiest during exam season, but it is important to keep in mind that proper nutrition is the best way to keep the mind and body focused and ready to face the day. An improper diet can actually lead to increased levels of fatigue and stress – which is something none of us need any more of during finals weeks. What we do need is increased brain power, which is something fruits and vegetables offer ample amounts of.

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TIP #4: SLEEP – TRY IT

Sleep deprivation – we all have it. Many students have grown accustomed to functioning on a lack of sleep but this tends to get worse during exam season, when we stay up and spend the night cramming and/or getting last minute things done. As a result, the lack of sleep can lead to even more fatigue, an increased dependence on caffeine, and even worse – the chance of sleeping in and maybe even sleeping through an exam. Yikes! The best way to avoid this is simple, but hard at the same time – get as much sleep as you can. Whether that means sleeping earlier and waking up earlier or taking short naps throughout the day, do what you need to do to get some rest and relax your brain. An overworked brain will only lead to more stress and sleep revives the mind, making it easier to study and tackle exams. Sleep is important and most importantly, it’s so relaxing!

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I wish all fellow students at Ryerson and all other schools all the best of luck during this semester’s finals week! Study hard, study well, and do your best! Surround yourself with positive vibes and do what you need to do to stay focused and motivated. We are so close to a well-deserved holiday break so we’re almost there! Hang in there. I’m rooting for you!

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