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Answers to Your Nursing Career Questions

Nursing School for ER Nurses

December 17th, 2010 by – Derek Brocklehurst

How long would I have to be in college if I want to be an ER nurse?

Unfortunately, there is no specific nursing degree to be an emergency room (ER) nurse. You would  want to get your registered nurse (RN) license or your bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree and have focused in ER care during your schooling and clinical rotations.  There are several different routes towards becoming a nurse.

  • You could attend a 2-year program at your local accredited health care facility for your diploma in nursing, which allows you to sit for your board exams (NCLEX).
  • You could attend a similar 2-year program at your local community college and get an associates degree, allowing you to sit for the NCLEX.
  • If you are interested in higher-level nursing such as nursing administration or leadership roles, you would want to attend a 4-year BSN program and sit for your boards after obtaining that degree.

All 3 options will allow you to work as a nurse. If you want to focus in ER nursing after school is over, though not all programs give the option, try to get clinical rotations in the ER. It’s always a good idea to network during rotations, as it might open up options for careers after school.

Check out Medi-smart’s nursing school directory for more information about schools and programs around the country.

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Posted in NCLEX, Nursing School

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Re-starting Your Nursing Career

October 11th, 2010 by – Derek Brocklehurst

I received my BSN and worked as a registered nurse for about 5 years, but then went into a different career. I am interested in reactivating my practice as a nurse. How would you suggest I go about doing this?

Jumping back into nursing after having a years-long hiatus does not have to be difficult. There are a couple different options available depending on where your nursing license currently stands.

If you kept your license up-to-date with completed continuing education units during the time you took off, then you might just need a refresher course in the hospital or clinical setting. I would apply for “new grad” positions at the hospital or setting you desire. Even though you might not be a new grad, the courses and introduction into clinical nursing will be helpful in jump-starting your practical skills.

If you let your license lapse and expire, you will need to sign up for the NCLEX. Taking an NCLEX review course would be very helpful in preparation for the exam. Make sure to check out Medi-smart’s nursing certification directory for more information about types of licensures offered once you pass your NCLEX!

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Posted in NCLEX, Nursing School

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Nursing Theory or Hands-On Licensing Exam – Which Is Best?

June 14th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

Once you start nursing school, you begin hearing a lot about the NCLEX, the licensing exam you must pass to be certified as a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN). This exam consists of a certain number of questions delivered by computer. If you answer enough questions correctly, you pass and may receive your nursing license, providing you meet your state’s Board of Nursing requirements.

In other countries, the exams aren’t always the same. They may test the same type of knowledge, but not in the same way. In Canada, the RN exams are offered by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) in all provinces and territories, except Quebec, which administers its own exams. The Canadian exams consist of 200 multiple-choice questions are that are offered throughout the country at the same time, twice a year, unlike the United States, where they are offered through a private company, whenever the graduates wish to take them.

Several years ago, the province of Quebec began a unique way of testing its RN graduates for licensing. While some of the exam process does include multiple choice exams, as US and other Canadian nurses are accustomed to, the Quebec exam includes hands-on testing portion, to test how the graduates would react to certain types of situations.

To do this, the Order of Nurses of Quebec (ONQ), the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ) in French, hires actors to portray patients in certain medical or surgical situations. Observers watch how the exam-takers react to the situations and grade them according to the graduates’ assessments, reactions, and performance. The exam may be taken in either English or French, depending on the graduate’s preference.

When this type of examination was launched with the first year of graduates, nurses who worked in the hospitals, those who would be working with these new nurses, weren’t sure how to take this new type of testing. They were concerned that the graduates may not be tested well enough to fully assess their skills.

The new examination type has had its growing pains. In the first few years, the failure rate was higher than the older multiple-choice only exams, but this has evened out over the past years, as the schools became accustomed to preparing the students for the licensing exam.

So, what is the best way to test a graduate nurse’s skills and knowledge? The more accepted manner of only multiple choice exams, or the newer Quebec-led format, of skill test? What do you think?

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Posted in NCLEX

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10 Tips to a Successful NCLEX Experience

May 26th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

It’s talked about from the very beginning of nursing school – the NCLEX, short for the National Council Licensure Exam. Whether you’re studying to be a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN), you will have to pass the exam to be granted a license to practice nursing in the state you wish to work. But, we hear so many horror stories about sitting the exam, how can you ensure the best possible chances of passing? Everyone is different, but here are 10 tips that may give you a boost.

1- Begin preparing right away. Buy a recent copy of an NCLEX study guide and start practicing the NCLEX-LPN or NCLEX-RN when you begin nursing school. This will help you get used to how questions are asked and what types of answers are required. It will also end up helping you with your school exams too, probably, because most schools base their exams on the same principle as the NCLEX in order to properly prepare their students for success.

2- Study at the best time of day for you. Are you great in the morning? Get up a bit earlier in the morning to set aside some study time. Are you an evening studier? Set aside evening time to study. Find when you are at your most alert and try to time your study sessions to coincide with these periods.

3- Make study notes to carry around. Sometimes, the best study time is when you didn’t expect it. You could be stuck at a doctor’s office or waiting for a ride, or just without anything to do. If you have notes to review, you can turn that lost time into productive time.

4- Make a study plan. Unless you’ve been taught study skills or you are a very effective studier, most people don’t really plan their studies. By making (and keeping!) a calendar, you should schedule study times and goals, and then keep to them. Make these appointments with yourself and consider them unbreakable, except for very urgent matters.

5- Ask for help. If you have trouble understanding a concept or you seem to be getting the same practice questions wrong, speak with an instructor or an experienced nurse to see where you may be going wrong. It never hurts to ask!

6- Work with a study buddy. You could either study with someone else or in a bigger study group, or you could help each other by holding study buddies accountable for studying and meeting goals. If you work with someone else, you may not feel so alone if you feel overwhelmed or just plain fed up with studying.

7- Don’t cram. Some people make a habit of cramming before an exam, convinced that it helps them pass their exams. But research has proven that this doesn’t help. What it often does is stress you out and make you tired because you didn’t relax and get a restorative sleep the night before.

8- Sleep and eat before the exam. You can’t be 100% if you are sleep deprived nor if you are hungry. Even if breakfasts aren’t your “thing,” try to get something nutritious in your stomach to tide you over during the exam period.

9- Know where you are going to write the exam before you have to get there. Do a practice run with whatever means of transportation you will be using on the day of the exam. Figure out how long it takes to get there and then add a bit of time for “just in case” events.

10- Be as comfortable as possible. Where comfortable clothes, shoes. If you think it will be noisy or distracting, consider bringing earplugs. If you need something to soothe your throat, ask if you can bring a bottle of water and/or lozenges. Think “comfort,” in all your decisions for that day.

These are just some tricks that may help you accomplish your goal of passing the NCLEX. If, for some reason, you don’t pass – don’t beat yourself up over it. Not everyone passes the first time around – and some fail twice. That doesn’t mean you can’t pick yourself up and try again.

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Posted in NCLEX

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NCLEX passing rates

May 9th, 2010 by – Sue Barton

  What is the average passing rate for the NCLEX?

The NCLEX examination is the test that nursing school graduates take in preparation for state licensure.  It measures the competence of entry level nurses to practice safely and effectively.  According to the most recent data provided by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org) , passing rates for first time test takers for the RN exam who are graduates of nursing schools in the US is about 90%.  Repeat test takers have lower passing rates, as do graduates from international schools.  First time, US educated candidates taking the LPN version of the exam have passing rates of about 85%.

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Posted in NCLEX, Nursing School

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Accreditation and Credentialing

April 25th, 2010 by – Sue Barton

Are you accredited with ANCC or NLN?

Let’s back up and review what we mean by accreditation.  NLN (National League for Nursing) is the organization that is responsible for the accreditation of nursing schools.  On the other hand, the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) is affiliated with the American Nurses Association and is the major organization that offers specialty certification to nurses.  These certification exams are offered within many nursing specialties to provide recognition to nurses with expertise in their field.  The ANCC also certifies some Advanced Practice Nurses.  APNs include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists.  APNs are often certified by the individual specialty organizations, for example, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the American College of Nurse Midwives, and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.

Medi-Smart is an online forum and information source, not a nursing school.  Medi-Smart can help you find programs in your field and geographic area that can prepare you for certification.

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Posted in General, NCLEX, Nursing School

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NCLEX Pass Rates in California

April 6th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

How many nurses actually pass the NCLEX in California every year? Is the test given only a certain number of times per year?

The pass rate for the NCLEX-RN in California is broken down by the individual schools attended by the candidates, not by the state. According to the California Board of Registered Nursing, the pass rates for first-time exam writers for the NCLEX-RN range from 50% to 100%, with the vast majority of schools weighing in the 80s and 90s.

The exam is offered by a company called Pearson VUE. It is the same exam offered throughout the United States. The NCLEX is a computerized exam that is taken in Pearson VUE locations across the country, in each state, and can be taken just about any day.
To determine the available days in the location where you would like to sit the exam, contact the individual office to find out their scheduled days and times.

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Posted in General, NCLEX

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is intended as a supplement, not as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.