While microbiology and chemistry probably took up a lot of your time and focus in your first years of nursing school, when you’re going through your senior year, you should be focusing on different things! It’s a balance between getting prepped for the NCLEX but also getting comfortable with the roles and responsibilities of your new job and doing all of the tedious preparation that comes with it.
Your focus must shift from some of that higher level of thinking (meaning the very specifics of classes like chemistry and microbiology) to some of the more practical things. Don’t get me wrong, chem and micro are essential to building your foundation as a nurse, but by senior year we should be finished pouring the foundation and getting to building the higher floors of the skyscraper that is becoming a success licensed registered nurse.
Here are some of the essentials to completing the higher levels of your nursing skyscraper. Keep in mind; you won’t get to the NCLEX penthouse suite until you do all of the prep work to get there. And that doesn’t mean getting A’s on your exams!
Figure out your state’s requirements to sit for boards after you graduate.
Your school does not do this for you. First, decide where you will first practice as a nurse, as you must go through the process of obtaining your nursing license in said state. This process typically encompasses how you’ll get your fingerprints on file, how much it costs, submitting appropriate documentation from your school, and things to get situated before you obtain your Authorization to Test (ATT). While many states have similar processes, they are not the same and it is up to you, as the aspiring nurse, to be fully prepared for this, not your instructors. Keep in mind; you do not have to take your NCLEX in the same state you practice in. I went to school in Iowa, tested in Indiana, and first practiced in Illinois.
Try to understand the basic tasks in clinicals and get really comfortable with them.
For example, know how to hook up a telemetry monitor, different types of oxygen set ups, taking blood sugars, taking vitals, giving injections, getting comfortable giving meds, etc. The more comfortable you are with the basics, the easier it will be to transition into practice after graduation. I know many of you went over this earlier in school, but many are not actually comfortable doing it. The NCLEX and your focused nursing courses are important to pass and comprehend, but you should be getting comfortable in the clinical setting as well. If you focus too much on getting every answer right on each exam and don’t spend time and effort in the clinical setting understanding, you’re doing yourself and your patients a disservice.
Decide which hospitals you’d like to work at and research their application process, requirements, & new graduate options.
This needs to be done at the beginning of your senior year. Many new graduate positions open up in January, even if you don’t graduate until May. The thought process of, “I’ll just focus on school and graduate first and then look for a job” is a terrible idea! It will take you months to land a job post-graduation if you did not do any work towards the goal of getting a job beforehand. This can leave in a seriously negative financial situation.
Plan financially for after graduation.
Graduation fees, parties, expenses in addition to buying scrubs and accessories for your new job, and also paying for an NCLEX review course, the fees to sit for boards and obtaining your license, etc. all add up. This is especially tough when your stress level is high, your income is nonexistent, and you are going to be facing loan payments soon. Research how much these things will cost and get a plan together!
Hopefully these tips will help you anticipate any complications that you may run into when you’re finally finishing your nursing school skyscraper. The paperwork and requirements for graduation, sitting for boards, and getting a job can be quite tedious, especially after you’ve been through nursing school! Stay strong, keep your head up, and get some of these things taken care of do they don’t stop you in your tracks later down the line.
Kati Kleber wants you to be the best nurse you can be in the shortest amount of time possible. It takes a little while to develop your nursey confidence, & she wants to remove as many roadblocks as possible. Check out her blog at NurseEyeRoll.com