I am pleased to report that I passed the HESI exam with flying colors. Passing score is 850. My score - 988.
I have mixed emotions. I'm elated that I was able to pass, but I am devastated that some of my classmates did not. They get another chance in 2 weeks, but it's difficult to try again once your confidence is shaken by not passing in the first place.
I wish I could tell all you future and present students what it takes to pass. I know what worked for me but everyone has to find their own way.
Okay. I'll tell you what I did.
* Stay on top of the material all the way through. If you learn it the first time around, getting ready for HESI is a review. It's not as if you are seeing the information for the first time.
* If you tank on a nursing school exam, be honest with yourself and go back and review the stuff you struggle with. Don't blame it on the test, the teacher, the weather, etc. If you aren't getting it, go back and get it.
* Stick to nursing process. Many of my classmates, even at the end, are still trying to approach the material as being able to define what something is. The test gives you a scenario with several right answers. You have to pick the BEST answer. For me the secret is this. If the question says "symptom, symptom, lab, lab, observation observation" - look for key words that tell you what the situation is. Is it heart failure? Renal failure? Pneumonia? Peripheral neuropathy? Once you establish what the disease in question is, think about what you AS A NURSE will do for this condition. In other words, go to INTERVENTIONS in your mind. Remember all those fugly care plans you had to do? HESI is the reason you had to do them.
* Know the normal labs. If the question gives you a lab result and you don't know if it's normal or not, you're dead in the water. If you know, for example, that the potassium is low, then you know what to do about it.
* Know the meds. Granted there were several medications on the test I'd never heard of, but the medication I had seen before, I knew what it was for, what the side effects are, and what a normal dose would be. So if you can't learn every med, at least know the meds you know backward and forward.
* Know medical tests. Know what an MRI is, an angiography, a barium enema, a CT scan, a hysterosalpinogram. Know if there is contrast dye involved. Know that if someone is allergic to shellfish or iodine, they can't have contrast.
* Have an understanding of the nurse practice act, delegation, legal responsibilities, therapeutic communication and cultural norms. It is tempting in the beginning of nursing school to want to skim over these topics and get to the "important stuff" like heart disease and stroke. Give these things your attention right from the start. It's not a lot of material, but you will see it over and over again. By the time you get to HESI you will have seen it so many times that it will be a no-brainer.
Many of us on the way to nursing school got really clever at figuring out to get the best grades for the least amount of effort. It got us into nursing school, but it hurt us in the long run. Some of us, and include myself, were in for a shock when we got to nursing school and found that there are no shortcuts. Those of us who made it accepted that early on and stopped looking for them.
Now that this ordeal is over I hope to gradually get my life back to what is seemingly normal. I don't have to drag a book with me everywhere I go. I can let go of some bad habits I picked up to cope with the stress. I can think about what I want to do in the abundant spare time I will now have.
And I'll blog some more. Twenty-one days from now when I graduate, I'll have to think of a new theme for my blog. It remains to be seen what direction it will take, but hopefully it will be something entertaining and maybe useful.
I don't know, but what I do know for sure is I'm going to have a spa day to celebrate my success.