Thursday, February 25, 2010

Older Daughter passes the nursing boards

I hadn't heard from my blogfriend MJ (the proprietor of Nurse Ratched's Place) in some time -- which is not surprising because I haven't heard from a lot of blogfriends in some time. Then again, I have been sadly neglectful in my blog visiting duties and there is a clear correlation.

Anyway, it was symbolic, at least, that this week's visit from Mother Jones, RN came on the very day that Older Daughter sat for the NCLEX -- the nursing boards. (Cue scary music....)

Older Daughter told me about the extraordinary security involved with the test. She had to surrender her smart phone of course -- otherwise she might have been able to find an app to outsource the taking of the test to India or something. She was photographed and finger-printed and, she said, under video surveillance during the entire process.

And there were no blue books! Maybe you have to be as old as I am to remember what a blue book is -- a little booklet of blank paper in which exam answers would be written. Her test was taken entirely on a computer.

And it was a "smart test" too: The number of questions varies according to the skill of the test-taker. After 75 questions the test decides whether the student has passed or whether the issue is still in doubt. If the machine thinks the issue remains open, the program keeps throwing questions at the student until the issue is decided... one way or another... or until the maximum number of questions has been used... somewhere, I understand, in the vicinity of 260. (Older Daughter -- though she'd deny it -- gave me different maximum numbers in different conversations.)

Older Daughter was a wreck in the weeks leading up to the exam. There'd been a snafu about getting permission to test in Indiana (she graduated from an Illinois nursing school). Thus, there was far too long an interval between her review course (in early January) and Tuesday. Older Daughter had been reading and studying and taking practice tests on line and driving herself... and the rest of us... nuts. She was so turned around by the weekend before the test she probably wasn't sure which end of the syringe gets stuck in a patient's tush.

Fortunately for Long Suffering Spouse and myself, Older Daughter and her husband live in Indianapolis. So my daughter was largely her husband's problem.

His Facebook postings showed increasing desperation as the test day approached.

Older Daughter's mother-in-law is a nurse. She offered to help Older Daughter study. No stress there, right?

Older Daughter had started out passing every practice exam. But, as the Big Day approached, and she began second-guessing herself, her scores began to plummet. After she hadn't passed a practice exam in a week or more she began talking about postponing the test. That's when I put my foot down. If you have to retake it, you have to retake it, I told her -- but take the darn thing first.

I heard from Older Daughter as she left the exam site Tuesday. "I didn't think it was possible to flunk in only 75 questions," she told me. "But I failed. I'm sure of it."

"Wait a minute," I responded. "You told me that 22 of your classmates have already taken the exam and all 22 thought they flunked when they came out."

"Well, yes."

"And only two actually failed, right?"

"Well, yes."

"And one of them -- you told me -- it was all for the best that she did fail, right?"

"Something like that."

"And didn't you tell me that if the test shuts off after 75 questions, it's only because you've passed?"

"That's before I took it. It was awful...."

I let her go on in this vein for awhile. It's what fathers are expected to do. When she finally paused to take a breath, or choke back a sob, I jumped in: "You passed."

"No! I didn't! I know it!"

"We'll see," I said, and somehow I managed to steer the conversation around to when actual results might become available. She told me that she could pay an extra fee and get results Thursday morning. That would be today.


Things sure have changed since I took a licensing exam. Back when I sat for the bar exam, the clay tablets on which we inscribed our answers had to be fired in the kiln, then taken by barge across the Euphrates to the Temple of Marduk, there to be analyzed by the scribes. I took the test in July... and I'm pretty sure I didn't hear until the end of September or beginning of October. (It couldn't have been too much later than that... my license says I was sworn in on October 23. We'll omit the year.)

So, to me, having to wait only two days for results was nothing short of a miracle of modern technology. I said so.

And, of course, Older Daughter disagreed. Two days was an eternity. Especially because the computer already knew when it shut the test down whether she had passed or whether she had set a new world's record for earliest failure. She was determined to find out before the two whole days passed.

My phone rang again not a half hour later. Older Daughter was at home now, working her own computer, employing tricks suggested by her fellow nursing students to get an early idea of what the test results might be. (In my day we ritually slaughtered sheep on a hilltop at sunrise. We examined the still-steaming entrails for clues as to what the future might portend.)

"Well?" I asked after Older Daughter explained what she was doing.

"Well, maybe I passed," she said, reluctantly, I thought. She told me what she'd done to reach this conclusion; I don't want to reveal any secrets so I won't repeat them. It wasn't nearly as messy, though, as poking around sheep guts.

"That's great!" I said. "Congratulations!"

Still, Older Daughter was not satisfied. There has to be some way, she told me, to find out for certain. There was a grim determination in her tone.

By yesterday morning, Older Daughter and her husband had found a back way into the test results; they even knew Older Daughter's brand-new license number. And it was on Facebook before dinnertime. For the modern generation, this is how anything becomes official.

Still, there was another question to be answered: Should she pay the extra fee for "early" disclosure of the test results this morning? I said she should because she needed the printout in order to apply for jobs. (No, she doesn't have a job yet.) But I haven't heard yet whether my advice was once again ignored. I assume so, however.

Long Suffering Spouse was thrilled to hear that Older Daughter passed. She'd been ready to strangle Older Daughter, too, in the days before the exam. But, in her jubilation, Long Suffering Spouse issued me a warning: "You better be nice to her," she told me, "she'll be the one called in to take care of you now."

For more about Older Daughter's nursing school graduation, read this post.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

the last sentence of this post really got to me curmy. well first of all CONGRATULATIONS to her!!! and since D#1 is also a nurse, she is who flies down here every few weeks to help take care of sarge. she has been a blessing in the highest order. seriously. i could just cry as i think of all she has done these past months. so be glad my friend, very glad...

big smiles, bee

Sarge Charlie said...

when you get old a nurse in the family is a joy.....

Shelby said...

That IS thrilling news! Congrats to her and all others who share her joy.

Yay for good news.