Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Horrible, Horrible Wait

Two years ago some "level III" nursing students came to our theory class along with some level II students and some actual nurses who had actually graduated from the same program at some point in the past. The level III students were there to tell us about their experience with the NCLEX and I remember one guy talking about taking BART and walking to the test center and that he thought, "And here were regular people going to work and doing regular people things..." in that he was not doing something regular or doing something routine.

Well, that stuck with me and I was thinking about it on Wednesday, the day before my test. "I'll be fine. I'm calm. Everything is fine. It's just a test," I was thinking. But the next day I sat on BART listening to my littlest iPod and I knew exactly what that guy meant two years ago. I could barely BREATHE and here were people going on with their day. I got off BART and I went into the highrise building The Test was being held in and I ran into a fellow Nursing School U student and she looked pale and shake-y and weary. She had taken The Test that morning and was just leaving.

I went up the elevator and I got my picture taken and my fingerprint scanned and I put my belongings (except my driver's license) in a locker (I picked #5. It's not a lucky number, it's just my favorite number) and I pocketed the key which was attached to a floppy rubber strip. The online test instructions said "no coats", but they let me keep my striped hoody. I was asked several times if I had anything aside from the key and my license in my pockets. I lied, "No. Nothing." I had a little lavender sprig in my back pocket. I had picked it from my garden on the way out the door. I had to smash the same finger onto another fingerprint scanner and then was led into the room. The test hostess (uh, what else could I call her?) sat me at a computer and logged me in. There on the screen was my picture, the one they'd just taken, the one with a big dumb grin...

And I flew throught the questions. I know this drug, I know this drug and I couldn't place it and then it came up AGAIN: that same drug. And then there was a whole chain of "select all that apply" and "who would you see first" kind of questions. And a bunch of peds questions. I swear to you, this test found every weak spot I have and shone a light on it and I got to question 75 and waited and waited to click "Next" because I was scared the test would continue and terrified the test would shut off and there was a million-year pause and the screen went blue and that was it. And I started crying really quietly and then the test hostess was there to take me away and I got to swipe *another* fingerprint (weird- I was being filmed and recorded- how could someone have taken my place, but, ok, fair enough). And then I recovered my belongings from locker 5 and I was down the hall and into the elevator and out on the street devastated and sure I had failed.

So, now I wait. Did I pass? I can only think of all of the questions I got wrong. And this test is really meant to screw with you that way. If you fail you get about half of the questions wrong. If you *pass* you get about half of the questions wrong it's just that the questions are harder. Apparently, if you get "recall" type of questions you're going down. They're the easy questions. So now I'm thinking, was that a "recall" question. At one point I got asked what a drug is meant to treat...And that was late in the test. That's a recall question. So, I failed. But am I that crappy a test taker and that lousy a nurse that I would definitively fail at *75* questions? (Non-nurse-y types: the test gets to 75 questions and, if it has been determined with 95% certainty that you have failed, the test shuts down. Likewise, if it has been determined with 95% certainty that you've passed the test shuts down). So, I must have passed. And people say if you feel like you failed and like your entire spirit has been crushed from your body and you just want to sit in a dark corner hugging your knees and rocking while humming childhood lullabies then, well, for sure you passed. So there you have it.

And now I wait.

1 comment:

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