The past few days have been exhausting. After the elation of passing HESI wore off I have felt drained of energy. At first I thought maybe i was feeling a little guilty. I want to celebrate the fact that I passed, but 22 of 60 students didn't pass and I feel terrible about it. I feel traumatized by the whole experience, the preparation leading up to the test and the tension that had built up over time.
So much is at stake. If we don't pass, we can't graduate. We get several chances to try again, but only two chances before graduation and pinning. For a lot of people that means cancelling graduation plans, money wasted on plane tickets, the embarrassment of having to tell your family you didn't pass. To make matters worse some students have internships and jobs lined up that they won't be able to start if they don't graduate.
I didn't know what to do with these feelings. Fortunately another classmate who passed the test opened up to me and it turns out she feels the same way. We talked to other students and several others who passed are feeling the same strange funk.
At the beginning of the semester a classmate came up with a plan to help students succeed. She suggested that the students who pass HESI participate in tutoring sessions for the students who didn't pass.
It turned out to be a terrible idea for several reasons. The students who didn't pass are very embarrassed about it, and they feel humiliated to be in the same room with their classmates who passed. For those of us who passed, we're drained and exhausted. We feel that we just don't have anything left to give. I know that since the day of the test I have had this gnawing sense of responsibility for helping my classmates pass, and I resent it.
Then I have this classmate, the one who calls himself the class nerd, who has patronized me for every HESI I have passed. We have had three exams - one midcurricular exam, the LVN exam and now this one. I did well on all of them and he did not. He always says to me "well the reason you did so well is that you got a lot of questions on topics you're good at." Now I'd heard that the questions are random, but after talking to other classmates, I think we all had pretty much the same questions. I can safely say after taking the HESI three times and scoring more than 100 points beyond passing every time, it's not just the luck of the draw that got me through. It was hard work and staying on top of the material all the way through. There is no magic formula. It's not luck or fate. I hate it when he tries to minimize my accomplishment as a way of justifying his failure.
The other thing that bothers me is that that during our test review that was week before last, I listened to students asking questions and I realized that for many of them, this was not a review. For many of them, it was as if they were seeing the information for the first time.
As much as I would like to help my classmates succeed, I cannot teach them two years' worth of material in an afternoon study session. I'm sorry. Every once in a while during nursing school, a classmate would ask me to help him or her study, or I would be asked to join a study group. I would try and explain my study methods to them and they would always reject what I was trying to tell them or they would argue the information. I personally go straight to nursing interventions, then fill in the rest of the information later. That way if I run out of time to study before the test, I at least got the most critical information covered. I would try and convince them that, hey, you asked me how I do it, I'm telling you, you have to believe me. But okay. Have it your way. We'll go through the Powerpoints item by item if that is what you want to do.
So today in class the passers and failers eyed one another uneasily. The class nerd wouldn't even look at me, wouldn't talk to me. I take this as a sign that maybe somehow he finally gets it. I really did learn something in nursing school, and he's not really the class nerd after all. I know that the failing students have their own stories to tell. I know they have no sympathy for those of us who passed. They would trade places with us in a minute. Nevertheless, our feelings are real and we're doing our best to try and sort them out. We feel guilty as hell and we feel left alone to deal with the aftermath of this experience. We want to honor our committment to help our classmates succeed, but we're all too aware of what little we can actually do about it. I'm trying to choke down this ball of resentment mixed with guilt and it's not going down well at all.
I know the classmate who came up with the tutoring plan had her heart in the right place. I know she wanted us to bond as a class and help each other get through, but unfortunately it didn't turn out the way anybody had hoped. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I never imagined the form of hell it would turn into.
But I'll be okay. It's just a weird place to be.