becomingrn's Posts


I’ve made it through two years of intense nursing course work and clinicals. I’ve studied for and passed the NCLEX-RN exam. I’ve applied for nursing jobs and finally landed a good one. Isn’t this what I’ve been waiting for? This is my time to shine, right?

I’m not sure about you, but my first day on the job was a huge reality check. Wow, there were a ton of things I didn’t learn in nursing school. New admits anyone? Yikes. 8 AM med pass? Insane.

In order to make your transition from nursing student to full-fledged nurse a little less like…um, an emotional wreck…take advantage of the time you’re given in your nursing orientation. I was given nine 12-hour shifts to figure things out. Not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but I made it work, and this is how I did it.

1. Observe. Spend the first day of training observing your nurse; do not leave your nurse’s side. Carry a few sheets of paper with you, and write down everything you’re told by the nurse. I wrote down passwords, how to fax new orders to pharmacy and lab, what to include in a Medicare note, how to admit a patient step-by-step, etc.


This is one of many pages of notes I took during orientation.

2. Set goals based on your observation day. For instance, one of my goals was to add more patients to my schedule each day. By day five, I was taking all of the patients I would have if I was working on my own. Other goals might be to admit or discharge a patient on your own, administer TPN, or call the MD about an INR result. You get the picture.

3. Ask for advice every single day on how you can improve. Adjust your above goals and work on accomplishing them during your next training shift.

4. Pay special attention to the organization techniques of the nurses you are training under. I trained under 3-4 nurses during my orientation, and I was able to pull a lot of cool ideas from each one of them.

I clip this contraption to my scrubs every morning so I can color-code my brain sheet!

I clip this contraption to my scrubs every morning so I can color-code my brain sheet!


I use this color-coded system on my brain sheet to quickly see the important things I need to accomplish during my shift.

5. Jump in when asked. If a nurse asks you to pull a PICC and that scares you to death, just say “yes.” If you’ve never done what they’re asking you to do, ask for guidance while YOU perform the skill.

6. Ask for more training if you need it. Hopefully, your job offers you enough time to get acclimated to your new role. If you feel like you need another day of training, ask for it. Tell them what you’d like to focus on if given another day of training.

I have to admit, being a new nurse is both exciting and terrifying. I really feel the weight of my responsibility as a nurse. I have heard from countless other nurses that this feeling is completely normal (even though it sucks). So hang in there with me and remember the impact that you’re making in your patients’ lives.

Read more

Hey, it’s been a while! A lot has happened since you saw me last. I graduated from nursing school, passed the NCLEX-RN exam, got my first RN job, and found out that my husband and I are expecting our first baby in November! I plan on writing bits and pieces about each of these milestones, but thought I should start out with the most common interview questions for nurses.


This is still a strange and awesome sight to see. I have worked so hard to get those two letters behind my name!

Before interviewing, I prepared a list of 30 questions that I thought might be asked in my interviews. I typed out my answers to each one, including stories from clinical and work experiences that highlighted my strengths.

After typing out each answer, I rehearsed my answer OUT LOUD (the “out loud” part is very important). If you practice your answers out loud, you will be able to make your answers sound more natural, and you’ll know if you need to tweak it a little bit. The way I write is different than the way I talk, as I’m sure it is with most people (so rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!).

For your convenience, here are the 30 questions I prepared. If you think of any that I missed, please add them in the comment section below! As you answer each question, remember to be honest and positive!

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Tell me about a situation where you upheld patient confidentiality.
  3. Why should we hire you?
  4. Do you like to work alone or in teams?
  5. Are there any certifications that you’re interested in obtaining?
  6. Give me an example of how you have handled change in the past.
  7. Tell me a time when you went above and beyond.
  8. How would you prioritize your shifts?
  9. How would you respond if a patient is upset?
  10. Give me an example of how you’ve worked as a team.
  11. Tell me about a time when you had to problem-solve.
  12. What lead to your interest in nursing?
  13. Describe a challenging experience you had in one of your clinical rotations and how did you solve the problem?
  14. When faced with a stressful work situation, how do you relax?
  15. Give me an example of a time when you knew you did a good job as a nurse/student.
  16. How would you respond to the charge nurse if asked to do some of the menial tasks for patients which are not normally your responsibility?
  17. Do you think you’ll be a career nurse, or will you be eventually looking for another profession?
  18. Can you describe a situation connected with nursing that made you angry?
  19. What type of colleague do you least like to work with?
  20. How many years do you see yourself staying with this facility?
  21. How do you go about making a decision?
  22. Tell me about a time when you provided for a patient’s cultural needs.
  23. How could you contribute to this facility?
  24. Tell me about a previous mistake and the lessons you learned from it.
  25. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult person.
  26. What do you know about _____ hospital?
  27. What do you know about the _____ unit that you’re applying for?
  28. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it?
  29. What’s a time that you exercised leadership?
  30. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision made by an authority figure.
Read more

Guess what?! My birthday was earlier this week, and I am celebrating by giving away a brand new copy of Mosby’s Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX Exam! Are you excited? I wrote about how awesome this book is here.


How to enter:

1. In order for a chance to win, you MUST comment below with one piece of advice on how to study well, how to be a great nurse, or how to include relaxation in your day. This will get you one entry.

2. If you would like to earn more entries, you can do the following:

3. Once you have completed the above steps, you must fill out a very short form at If this form is not filled out, you will not be entered into the contest.

The contest is open until 9 PM on Sunday, March 22, and I will announce the winner on Monday, March 23!

This contest is only open to those who live in the United States or Canada (sorry to my followers around the world).

Read more

What do you think about me doing weekly posts with updates and my plan for the week? I’m thinking about it…mostly because I’m addicted to planning. The accountability helps, too. 😉

Friday tends to be the first day of the week for me, so these posts will likely show up on Fridays. I have class on Thursdays, so I usually spend Thursday afternoon relaxing from all of the preparation it took to get to Thursday. I use Friday as a day to look ahead and plan for the following Thursday’s class.

This week…I need to focus on really getting this content down. The tests have been more difficult this semester, and I need to figure out what I need to change in order to improve. I’m doing fine. I just know I could do better. Please leave your tips or encouragement in the comment section. 🙂

In other news, I received my nursing pin in the mail today. I purchased it on Etsy…you can find it here if you would like to purchase one for yourself!



  1. Take one Kaplan test (I’m trying to be better about answering NCLEX questions daily).
  2. Read pharmacology content for Thursday (we have a case study on infectious diseases).
  3. Clean the house (I had a test yesterday…’nuff said).


  1. Take one Kaplan test.
  2. Read about infection control precautions.
  3. Read about infectious diseases in the Med/Surg book.


  1. Create two tables. One for infectious diseases and one for medications to treat infectious diseases.
  2. Hang out with Mark & Kass!


  1. Complete case study for Thursday.
  2. Take one Kaplan test.


  1. Finish creating tables from Sunday.
  2. Review notes.


  1. Meet up with my study group to go over Thursday’s case study.
  2. Take a long nap. 🙂
Read more

I have received several requests regarding how to learn pharmacology content. You asked, now I’ll answer…to the best of my ability.

Here are the basics to get you off to a great start in your pharmacology course:

1. This course is largely memorization, which could be good news for us nursing students who struggle with choosing the most correct answer out of other correct answers. For the most part, pharmacology is straight-forward, and flashcards work great for this kind of learning. On the flip-side, know that you will never be able to remember every detail about every drug. And that is okay!

2. Know your A & P. A good understanding of A & P is crucial to understanding how the medications work! This makes it much easier to remember how the medication might affect body systems and what adverse reactions or side effects you might see in your patient.

3. Separate into classifications and keep your focus there. Do not memorize individual drugs! Memorize the classes of drugs. And suffixes! Also, a little birdie told me that the proprietary names of drugs will no longer be provided on the NCLEX. This still doesn’t mean that you need to memorize each generic name, but it does increase the importance of memorizing suffixes. By the way, my favorite suffix is “lol” for obvious reasons.


4. This is the best class to use my handy-dandy tables. I know I say this a lot, but you should really add table-making to your study repertoire. I think the table study technique really shines with pharmacology content. Just dream a little with me…each table could be a class of drugs that you could whip out at a moments notice and study for your next exam or for the exam to end all exams (ahem…the NCLEX).


5. Go to YouTube! If you ever need a visual, just enter the class of drug into a YouTube search! Here are a few to get you started. If you find some other good videos, post the links in the comment section!

Principles of PharmacologyDiureticsAntibioticsAntidiabeticsCalcium Channel BlockersAutonomic Drugs.

Read more

The time I’m in class or clinical during the week is pretty minimal this semester. I have class once a week for three hours, and I have clinical on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until the end of February. I’ll be starting my preceptorship later in the semester, but my schedule is pretty light compared to previous semesters.

My instructors have warned us about the dangers we face with this level of freedom in fourth semester. Plus, there is this thing called senioritis (related to studying too much in the previous three semesters as evidenced by exhaustion and an f*** it all mentality). So, I’m trying to fight against senioritis the best way I can…with a (care) plan. I’m all about making plans and checklists.


  1. Finish typing my journal for clinical about patient education.
  2. Read the material for Thursday’s case study lecture.
  3. Type agenda for Monday’s nursing club officers’ meeting.


  1. Complete case study for Thursday.
  2. Attend nursing club officers’ meeting.
  3. Complete service learning hours at Union Gospel Mission.


  1. Study the case study with my study group.
  2. Review the diabetes mellitus content from previous semesters.


  1. Answer 100 NCLEX questions related to Thursday’s content areas (diabetes mellitus and renal).
  2. Write my journal for clinical regarding my service learning experience.


  1. Attend the case study lecture.
  2. Attend the study session with the fourth semester tutor.


  1. Celebrate Friday by having fun with my sister, Megan, and her family!

What’s your plan for the week?

Read more


After ALL the the work it takes to organize my binders each semester by week, and after I told all of you about how awesome that is, I decided to re-do it for my last semester. But don’t worry. If you are using the method I used, you might want to keep doing it that way.

I took all of my content from the first three semesters and put them in alphabetical order instead of by semester and week. Sounds like a lot of work, right? It was. It was kind of terrible, and I’m glad it is behind me now.

The reason I made the change? For the most part, I will only be reviewing content in my class this semester. Our program is designed to dig in deeper during the last semester with the content we learned in the first three semesters. We do this by working through massively long and excruciating painful case studies.

Since we use the content from previous semesters, it was important for me to be able to access that information easily. The old system wasn’t working for me anymore because I couldn’t remember what week or even what semester we went over cardiac. Plus, I am pretty sure that cardiac was covered in more than one class and in more than one semester.

Here are my binders before the mess began.

IMG_3201 (2)

I was too tired and crabby to take a picture of the mess. But just imagine paper…lots of paper…and no way to get around it. I was pretty much stuck finishing this project because I trapped myself in the dining room.

Basically, I took everything out of my binders and made a pile for topics beginning with “A” and another one for “B” and so on. I had separate lectures for heart failure, myocardial infarction, and EKG monitoring, so I put them all under the “Cardiac” tab and had smaller tabs for the individual topics. Same went for endocrine, neuro, GI, etc.

This is how I know where to find the content that I just spent hours organizing…

The front sleeve of each binder has a table of contents with the actual contents of that binder in bold lettering. Pretty handy.


The sleeve on the spine of the binder has the first topic, last topic, and the number of the binder.


Alright, it’s time to get back to care plans and case studies!

Read more

My last semester of nursing school begins in a week, and I am busy creating my calendars, preparing another batch of freezer meals, and soaking up as much family time as possible.

Here’s a look at my winter break in pictures:

Believe it or not, the Twin Cities has not gotten much snow yet. But these two turkeys seem to be hanging around a lot…


I was the idiot who thought she could make a Christmas gift for someone on her list. After a lot of seem ripping and tears, I decided to give up…


This is our niece. Love the look. 🙂


I won several personal training sessions at my gym, so I am getting pretty buff again. Watch out…


Grant and I hosted a New Year’s Day Party, and we got to play Ticket to Ride for the first time! I highly recommend it…

I’ve been spending some time organizing for my last semester. My lecture only covers one topic per week this semester, so instead of writing “Week 1, Week 2, Week 3,…” on my binder tabs, I get to write the name of the topic that will be discussed. I’m kind of excited about that. I think that it will be easier to find what I am looking for when studying for an exam…


Best of luck as y’all start your semesters! I can’t wait to hear about them!

Read more

If you haven’t read about how I use Google calendar in nursing school, check out My Calendars — Part 1.

The other two calendars I use are paper calendars, and I place them in the front and black slots of my binder. The one at the front of my binder is my syllabus calendar, and it is a very detailed version of the calendar I keep on my Google calendar.

The syllabus calendar goes in the front slot of my binder.

The syllabus calendar goes in the front slot of my binder.

Absolutely everything related to nursing school is on this calendar. I use the syllabus my instructors hand out at the beginning of the semester and delete all of the information that does not apply to me, such as the clinical dates for the other clinical groups.

Date, time, lecture topic, clinical information, exam information (I highlight exam dates), service learning, group project meetings, and all of the other stuff they pile on us goes on this calendar. I just rotate the pages as the semester progresses.


The calendar on the back of my binder holds only the important dates, such as assignment due dates and exam dates. I can look at it quickly and know if something important is going on this month.


I cross off the days as I go so that I can quickly see the next major event. The events I include are clinical dates, service learning dates and locations, exam dates, assignment due dates, and I throw holidays in there, too. (I can’t wait for Christmas!)


These three calendars (Google, syllabus, and important dates) keep me from pulling my hair out every single day. My mind can rest from some of the stress of not knowing whether I’ve missed a deadline or a meeting because I always know where I need to be. Give it a shot. And if you have a calendar system that works for you, let me and the other readers know because we need to help each other out!

Read more