Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The NCLEX-RN Challenge: How to Sit for up to Six Hours

A lot of ground is covered in PRIMED’s intensive two-day NCLEX Prep course, which you can learn more about here and here. However, we can’t cover everything. So while the NCLEX-RN Prep instructors focus on platelets, paediatrics, and Penrose drains in class, here let’s take a look at how to—dun dun duh—survive up to six hours in the exam room.

If you’ve got an 8 am NCLEX-RN appointment, it’s tempting to roll out of bed and head immediately to the test centre. Avoid this at all costs: you don’t want to still be groggy when you take your seat. Even more importantly, you need time to:

Drink your coffee early. Way early. If there’s one thing you don’t need to take with you to the NCLEX-RN, it’s a dose of diuretic. Add that on top of a nervous bladder and minimal time for bathroom breaks, and it can make for one uncomfortable exam situation.

Photo: Petr Kratochvil (CC)
On this note, you’ll want to be hydrated, but not too hydrated (see above). Make sure you bring a bottle of water and a snack, which you can access during breaks—the first of which comes 2 hours in, and the second another 3.5 hours after that.

Being comfortable for marathon exams like the NCLEX-RN is important, but there are two schools of thoughts on how to dress. One says, even though you may have finally outgrown your yoga pants, it’s time to bust those comfy suckers out once again. The other says, “dress well, test well.” That is, according to theories of embodied cognition, if you show up to the NCLEX smartly dressed, you’ll be more confident. The choice here comes down to your own psychology. Either way, wear layers, so you can modulate your temperature.

Last but not least: Although we all know how to properly sit at a computer, most of us still slump like we’re giant gummy bears. While sparring with CAT, be aware of your posture to avoid eventual back pain, and also periodically stretch out your toes and fingers to keep the blood pumping and to allow your mind to take a little itty bitty break.

One last time, for good measure: Remember, no venti lattes before the NCLEX.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Road to the NCLEX-RN

When you’ve been focusing on getting to end of your nursing degree, you may not have spent much time thinking about the steps between your BSCN and the NCLEX-RN. Luckily, we’ve laid them out for you here in one nice, tidy list.

First things first: Finish nursing school.

Easy peasy, right? Great, on to the next step, then.

Step two: Apply for eligibility

It’s now time to apply to the Association of Nursing in the province you wish to practice in, who will determine if you’re eligible to sit the NCLEX-RN. If you’re an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN), then make sure you get assessed by the National Nursing Assessment Service first.

Step three: Register for the NCLEX-RN

Next, register for the NCLEX-RN either online or by phone with Pearson VUE, who administer the entry-to-practice exam in Canada.

You’ll receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) email, which will tell you within which dates you must sit your exam. It’ll also tell you your authorization number and candidate identification number. Important!

Step four: Make an exam appointment

Ideally, if you’re a student nurse, choose an exam date that’s not too long after your degree graduation. Remember, testing appointments can fill up quickly, so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Step five: Study, study, study

Begin studying between two and three months before your NCLEX-RN appointment. Sign up for a prep course, like PRIMED’s intensive two-day NCLEX-RN Prep course, to help structure your study plan and make sure you’ve got all your concepts covered.

A solid study plan is key to passing the NCLEX-RN, which can be as short as 75 questions or as long as 265, depending on how many correct answers you get.

Step six: Chill out the day before

Although it may be tempting to get in one last cram session the day before, your brain, and body, need a chance to relax.

Spend the day drinking plenty of water, and fill yourself with high-energy and vitamin-rich foods, like these ones recommended by BBC Good Food. Mediate, if that’s your thing.

Step seven: Own the NCLEX-RN

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s not a step to forget!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

NCLEX-RN Prep in the Light of Day

Blanket fort with candles
Photo: Max Charping (CC BY 2.0)
After years of study and, not to mention, tens of thousands of dollars, the nursing entry-to-practice exam can be a daunting thing. The NCLEX is what finally puts those two little initials behind your name: RN.


No one needs to tell new nurses that the NCLEX-RN is a big deal. It’s one of the first milestones in a nursing career, and PRIMED knows that every person preparing to write the big exam wants to go in a-swinging.

That’s exactly what PRIMED’s intensive two-day NCLEX-RN Prep course is designed for: to set you up to knock it out of the park.

Everybody has a certain approach to studying. Some of us might turn our cell phones off, turn down the blinds, and hunker down in a blanket fort with a stack of textbooks for 48 hours straight. While that has a certain appeal, the rest of us tend to study better in daylight.

There are even a few more benefits to studying for the big day by taking an NCLEX-RN Prep course, beyond the fact they don't take place in the dark. Here's a few:

1.     The structure of review has already been built for you, by professionals

At PRIMED, all of our instructors have at least a Master’s degree in nursing and are experienced educators. They lay the study groundwork so that PRIMED students can focus on the material at hand.

2.     There’s a real, live person to ask questions of, when the online forums run out

While the Internet is an incredible resource, the opportunity to bounce concepts and questions off someone face-to-face wins every time. Plus, there’s a classroom full of other NCLEX-RN preppers to collaborate with.

3.     You receive custom-made study materials that take the classroom home

At PRIMED, we provide a 200-page workbook and study guide as part of the study plan. This extends the benefit of a structured NCLEX-RN Prep course into each student’s home.

Whether you choose to read the PRIMED study guide in a darkened blanket fort, however, is completely up to you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Keeping Up with Nursing Practice

Nursing is not anything if not a dynamic field. Nurses have always worked at the constantly changing intersection of medical knowledge and advanced technology—whether that’s (finally) requiring handwashing in the 19th century, or implementing alternative therapies in the 21st.

As anyone who finds themselves constantly upgrading smartphones every other year knows, in today’s world, knowledge and technology develop faster than ever before. And so does nursing.

Unlike many other professionals out there—say, bankers or politicians—nurses are constantly incorporating advancements into their practice as quickly (and as safely) as possible. Not only in regards to technology, of course, but patient care, environment management, and all the other best practices that go into delivering top-tier health care. Always have got to stay one step ahead of the next virus, as it were.

In order to keep up with the ever-evolving landscape of nursing practice, the entry-to-practice exam for nurses training to enter the scene has also got to stay on its toes.

The test plans for the NCLEX-RN itself are updated every three years (with the next update coming in April 2016), but new exam items are constantly added and tested in preparation for each of these updates. For just as nursing practice evolves, of course so does the NCLEX-RN.

That’s why PRIMED’s NCLEX-RN Prep courses are regularly updated to incorporate the latest in nursing practice. Because keeping on top of the constant change in “real-world” nursing practice means keeping on top of what NCLEX-RN test-takers will be seeing on their exams.

To make sure you’re provided with the latest clinical information as you prepare to write the NCLEX-RN, PRIMED’s course materials are updated at least three to four times per year. Not only does this set you up for success on the NCLEX-RN, but it also means you’ll be entering that “real world” of nursing with the most up-to-date knowledge of practice.

It’s just something nurses do: stay on their toes. PRIMED will help keep you there.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Is the NCLEX-RN Harder than the CRNE Was?

It’s a question many nurses writing their entry-to-practice exam in 2015 are probably asking: Is the NCLEX-RN harder than the CRNE was? Why did the switch have to happen this year? Why me?!

There’s no doubt the NCLEX-RN is a different beast than the CRNE was. For one, the CRNE was a straightforward multiple-choice exam, and the NCLEX-RN uses computer adaptive testing (CAT). That means if you take a guess on the NCLEX-RN, it can negatively affect your exam.

It also was created in the United States—which means Canadians can feel like they’re coming at it from the outside.

It’s true that American and Canadian nurses will be writing the same nursing exam from now on. And it’s also true that historically Canadian nurses have had a lower NCLEX-RN pass rate than their US counterparts. The stats vary from year to year, but somewhere in the ballpark of 85% for US-educated first-time writers, and only in the neighbourhood of 70% for Canadian-educated first-time writers.1

However, that was when Canadian nurses writing the NCLEX-RN truly were coming at it from the outside—it wasn’t our exam.

It’s a whole new can of beans in 2015.

According to the Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators, the first-time pass rate of the NCLEX-RN is indeed around 85% for US-educated nurses—which is similar to that of the old CRNE: about 87%.2 This is the better number to predict Canadian nurses’ success rate on the NCLEX-RN.

Of course, with such a big change, there may be a bit of stumbling before we Canadians find our firm footing. The key to finding that footing—as you of course already know—is being as prepared as possible for the exam beast you are going to face. Whether that beast be the NCLEX-RN or the CRNE.

A well-executed study plan, including PRIMED’s two-day NCLEX-RN Prep course, will help you choose the correct set of weapons for exam day. For the NCLEX-RN isn’t harder for Canadian nurses to take down—we just have to adapt our moves. And PRIMED has got your back.

1 “NCLEX Pass Rates,” National Council of State Boards of Nursing, https://www.ncsbn.org/exam-statistics-and-publications.htm.

2 “Preparing Your Nursing Students for a Successful NCLEX Examination Experience,” Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators, 1, http://www.ccrnr.ca/assets/preparing_your_students_for_a_successful_nclex_experience_final.pdf.