I am so excited to officially become an LPN!!!! Lord only knows! I wanted to share my story with others, so that it may inspire you to not give up on your dreams…
Have always wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a child. I remember seeing my grandmother die from pancreatic cancer at the age of 11 years old, and wishing that I could of helped her more, or comforted her better than what I could at the time. I also witnessed my grandfather's slow decline before his passing, and remember the anger I felt even at 15 years old when I overheard him telling my father a nurse tried to feed him his lunch while he was on the toilet. These two instances reaffirmed what I wanted to do in life; I wanted to make sure I was there for someone else's Nana and Grampa one day, the way I wish I could've been there for mine.
I went to a vocational high school, where my journey in the healthcare field began. I graduated with my diploma, but also with a CNA certification. At the age of 18, I began my 6 year career working as a pharmacy tech in a local Walgreen's. It was a great experience, where they actually paid for me to get sponsored through the state. Around this time, I was accepted into a 4 year BSN nursing program but only completed 2 years before I had to withdraw from school for personal reasons. Fast forward to when I was 24 years old..
I made the decision to go back to school. I was married with one child, and although I was taking classes to become an MA, I did not feel fulfilled personally. Around this same time, I started a new job within a prestigious Boston hospital as a pharmacy tech. When I disclosed to my coworkers that I was taking classes to become an MA, they also pushed me to go straight for nursing.
I was too nervous to read the acceptance letter myself, but jumped for joy once my husband finished reading the good news. 2 weeks later, I found out I was 1 month pregnant with my daughter. I had no idea what to do; should I hold off on school? Should I go through with this pregnancy? We were not in a good place financially, and I didn't know if I could handle being pregnant and going to school as well as working full time. Being a firm believer in "everything happens for a reason," and "if God brought you to it, He'll bring you through it," I went ahead and continued my education with my soon-to-be baby girl in tow. She was born in my second semester via c-section. I took one week off and went right back to school/clinical, and pumped milk on our class breaks.
During my last semester of nursing school, my estranged husband left my two children and myself. Although I was working full time and also started making baby head bands for some extra money, we were still evicted at one point. My estranged husband was not providing any monitory support, but luckily we avoided a shelter with a community program in our area.
One of my classmates told one of my professors, who spoke to the school I was attending. They offered us gift cards for groceries and gas to get us through. My school even paid for day care so I could take my final! When I crossed that stage and saw my son waving at me, (my daughter was too young to come,) I felt like I could cry right then and there. I did it. With God's grace and the help of my school.
My first try at the NCLEX was in Oct. I was so depressed at this point. I had lost so much weight from the demise of marriage, and truly my focus was providing for my children. Food was limited. Diapers were tough to come by. I was behind on a lot of bills..
My head was not in the game like it should of been. Although I took the Hurst review and used a Saunders CD-ROM, I was more concerned on slinging homemade baby headbands so my children didn't go without. I failed. It shut off at 156. I was devastated. I slipped further into depression. This put off my hopes of going right back into school to continue my RN. This set back my finances even more.
My second try was in Jan. My cousin sponsored me, and I began working with one of my previous professors. I would sit with her once a week at her kitchen table and review an Exam Cram she downloaded and printed for me. "I know, I've been there as a single mom," she'd say, "You can do this, I have so much faith in you, I mean it. You are already a nurse, you just have to prove it to the state of Mass now." Again, my head was not in it.
I was worried about my kids having a Christmas, and trying to help them cope, especially my son, with the absence of their father who had not seen them since Oct and was not calling or returning their calls. I failed. It shut off at 96 this time. And I got mad. I wished NCLEX was a person; I wanted to punch it in the face! LOL I was furious that something was holding me back from the betterment of my children. I was mad at myself I couldn't snap out of it, and my dream was slipping away. I went to work. I was out for blood. I took my time to get over this defeat, and went right back to the drawing board...
My date was set for April 19. I bought a Kaplan Strategy Review Book the same day I failed the last time. THIS was everything to me! It built my confidence and reassured me I was not an idiot, and that I should find comfort in knowing what the test was all about already. It reiterated that the further you went in the exam, you were "still in the game.
Take your time." It also taught how to answer the questions, and helped you break each one down enough to figure out what the NCLEX was looking for you to know. I read it front to back 2xs, and answered each question in the back. I reprinted the Exam Cram my professor previously gave me; 5 exams, 200 questions. This was great because the questions were tougher than the questions I had on my other materials.
It also conditioned me to get use to answering 200 questions, so as my test ticked past 85, I didn't freak out. I practiced with my Saunders CD-ROM, which was just good for refreshing my knowledge. And that was it! After work, I would come home, make dinner, give the babies baths, hang out for 30 mins before their bed time, and hit the books for about 2 hours every night. On the weekends, I would ask my father to take them every once in a while so I could sit in his bedroom and review.
I passed my third time! I had sat for the whole test, the whole 205 questions. I did the PVT trick and got the "good pop up", where as the 2 times before I did not. I still didn't trust it though! LOL I paid for my early results after 48 hours.. PASS!!!! I was so excited that it took me some to breathe regularly again. I just wanted to share my story, for anyone out there who is discouraged, or the odds seem to be against you.
For any single mom or dad, for anyone who did not pass the first time around. If God has put a dream in your heart, DO NOT GIVE UP UNTIL YOU GET THERE!!!! Remember, you already graduated- the worst is over! You are already a nurse! As my professor said, you just have to prove it to the state!