After the NCLEX: 48 hours of torture

After taking my NCLEX in July, I thought I would feel relieved, but to my surprise, I wasn’t. Waiting the 48 hours for the unofficial quick results was absolutely torturous. Falling asleep at night was nearly impossible. My NCLEX results were the only thing I could think about. The anxiety washed away only after I found out that I had passed. No words can express my joy!

Some of my friends reached out to me after they took the test. Most of them thought they failed. Some of them walked out of their test sites hysterically crying. I tried my best to calm their nerves. My advice to them was to take comfort in the fact that they did their best. I told them worrying is fruitless, as there’s no changing the outcome now.

I also reminded them the amount of questions they get does not necessarily indicate if they passed or failed. I have friends who passed at 75 questions and friends who passed at 265 questions. But I can proudly say that every single one of them passed.

When I found out that I passed, I couldn’t believe after all the blood, sweat and tears that I was now Kristen Ponticelli, RN. But soon after the celebration ended, I began thinking, “Now, what do I do?”

The answer, of course, was to find my first nursing position. A mentor once told me it can take up to six months to find your first job. In some cases, it may take even longer, so do not get discouraged.

Keep these tips in mind as you start your job hunt:

• If you have friends or contacts who work in hospitals and may be resources for finding a nursing position, reach out to them via email or give them a call. This is not the time to be shy.

• If you completed a preceptorship at a place at which you enjoyed working and you believe they thought highly of you, send the manager an email and see if any positions are open or are opening soon. Follow up with a phone call if you don’t hear back.

• Make sure you contact your references to let them know you are applying for jobs and that they may be called by prospective employers.

• Call your nursing school’s career center and let them know you have passed your NCLEX. Find out if job openings have been posted.

• Make sure your basic life support certification and resume are up to date and that your resume is polished and error-free.

Good luck to all the new RNs and the students cramming for the NCLEX. Remember: Throughout your careers, you will never stop learning, so keep asking questions and keep studying!

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