NCLEX Confessions with a Graduate: Summer Kervin

Recent graduate Summe2016-01-30 17.55.43r Kervin is a force to be reckoned with. In just a month, she graduated from Nightingale College, took and passed the state licensure exam, and accepted a job as an RN in Salt Lake Regional Medical Center’s ICU department. She started her nursing education in the Deep South but quickly was relocated westward by the military. However, Summer didn’t let the move stop her from getting her education and becoming a nurse. Here is her experience with Nightingale and some insider tips about the NCLEX.

When did you graduate from Nightingale College?

I graduated from Nightingale College on January 8th, 2016.

Why did you choose to attend Nightingale?

I chose to attend Nightingale College because they had no waiting list to get started. I had previously attended another nursing program in Alabama but was unable to complete my degree before our family was transferred to Montana by the military. I was very anxious to get my classes going again so I could finish my degree. I had also heard that Nightingale College was more military family friendly.

What was your favorite/most memorable moment while you were in nursing school?

What I enjoyed about nursing school most of all was the amazing people who not only became my classmates, but also some of the best friends that I will ever have. Our initial clinical group from 1st semester became extremely close, and we got each other through one semester at a time.

Nursing school comes with a lot of stress among other things. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? 

It is not easy at all to balance classes, clinicals, work, family, and try to keep your sanity all at the same time for four semesters. At times, it seemed so much easier to throw in the towel and stop trying your best just so that you can get through. During those times, I just had to step away from school stuff for a while. Personally, I would take several hours to just let my mind let it all go, whether it was by taking a hot bath, reading a book (not a textbook, haha!), or knitting. You have to remember to take care of yourself.

When did you start  preparing for the NCLEX?

While technically I have been prepping for the NCLEX ever since I first started nursing school back in 2009. I began faithfully studying around the last month of school. I intended to schedule a time to take the NCLEX as soon as possible after graduation. I felt like the longer I waited, the more I would possibly forget.

How did you prepare for the NCLEX? 

The Kaplan course that was provided by Nightingale was very helpful. The instructor shows you how to break down the questions and think them through, even if you have no idea what the questions are talking about. After graduation, I did all of the NCLEX practice questions I could find, including the Kaplan website that was provided for us during school. I also purchased a Kaplan practice book from the book store for extra practice while we were on vacation after graduation. My biggest tip would be to practice questions rather than try to cram information.

Share your NCLEX experience. Where you nervous? How did you feel once you completed the exam? How did you feel when you learned you passed? 

I had originally scheduled to take the exam during the last week of January, but after checking the Pearson Vue website daily, several earlier testing times became available. So I opted to go ahead, reschedule, and take it sooner. Going into the exam, I was more anxious to get it over with than nervous about it. By using the Kaplan method for breaking down questions, I felt like I was doing pretty well. And for once in my life, I was thrilled to see select-all questions and charts pop up since that meant that I was getting higher level questions. I was fully prepared to be in the testing room for the entire 6 hours for all 265 questions. So you can only imagine my shock when the computer screen went blank after 75 questions! The testing proctor thought it was pretty funny while she was watching me on the computer monitor when I suddenly sat up really quickly in my chair and looked panicked. My first thought was, “No! I really do know what I’m doing! I can’t be done already! I’m smart, really I am!” I felt like I was going to be sick. The two days of waiting to find out if I had passed was the worst! I was checking the DOPL website constantly to see if my name would pop up when trying to verify my license. Then early in the morning on January 21st, while my husband was getting ready for work, I checked the website again not really expecting to find out anything. But there it was…my full name saying that my RN license was active! I started crying hysterically, much to my husband’s concern, haha! The relief was overwhelming.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently when preparing for the exam?

At the time, I kept wondering if there was anything else I could do to prepare for the exam. I did thousands of practices questions, reviewed lab/electrolyte normal values, and attempted to memorize drug names, which had never been one of my strengths in the first place. But I truly feel like there was nothing else I could have done to prepare.

What advice would you give to other nursing students and recent grads who are about to tackle the exam?

My biggest tip would be to breathe, take your time, and do NOT psych yourself out. When you start to psych yourself out and doubt yourself, you start to go blank. Remember to think like a nurse! You know what to do. More than likely, the answer is related to ABCs, Maslow’s, or myasthenia gravis.

Now that you have passed, what is the next step for you? 

I am now a Telemetry RN in the ICU department at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. I worked there as a CNA prior to finishing school and also completed my preceptorship hours in the same unit.  It feels great to finally have RN behind my name. My next step is to complete my bachelor degree, work toward getting my CCRN certification, and possibly a master’s degree down the road.

Have you had an experience you want to share about the NCLEX-RN and don’t mind being spotlighted? Email Emily at with your information. We are always looking for great stories to tell.