I can see gray clouds on top of me, moving swiftly, clouding over abruptly. Creating an illusion that only I can spy, like things that match saplings and lively conifers nearby.
I can see the hands of the trees that happily wave at me, with varying shades of brown, juniper and hunter green. The birds on top fly in a chaotic jumble, and at times slapped by the wild winds and dusts right before my very eyes.
I can see scenic rooftops and chimney stacks that look familiar, and walls made up of cold bricks and old, styling moss. The windows are layered with white plain curtains and wooden blinds, which cast only moving shadows every night.
I can see the faraway horizon from my dusty glass window, but not the very object that’s suppose to rise and set on it. And every shrubbery and landscaped vistas seem to conceal, the existing life and beauty that await, and that are hidden from me.
I can see the danger and beauty of emptiness wherever I go. From the noiseless streets that slowly and silently kill my mind and soul; and to the complex roads and lonely distant paths I take, which somehow tell me to get lost and stay.
I wonder how this desolation can become so pleasant to bear, in a matter of three hundred and something olding days. Where stillness brings vibrance to my dull and hectic hours, this, probably is the kind of England that I truly love.
If you are reading this, I’m pretty sure that you too, are an aspirant UKRN just like me and as we all know, the NMC’s Test of Competence consists of two parts. The first part is the Computer-Based Test (CBT) that can be accomplished at various Pearson VUE test centers and other professional centers authorized by the NMC of course, while the second part is a nursing Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) provided by the University of Northampton, and is the only university (I know) in the UK that is authorized by the NMC to do so at the present time.
It’s safe to say that the first part of the Test of Competence, which is the CBT, is one of the most exacting tests that I have encountered so far. The test is easier than the examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States and Canada, which is the NCLEX-RN, but is definitely not the kind of test that you would take for granted. I swear. :O
So if you’re planning to take the first part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s test of competence soon, here are some tips that will hopefully guide you to succeed. These tips are just my personal and practical points that you might want to consider because they helped me get through my CBT exam. I hope that these could help you too.
IT IS ALL IN THE MINDSET. Before I took my exam, I had browsed few weblogs that have tips on how to pass the CBT exam, and most of the articles mentioned something about acceptance – accepting that you are going to take the examination. This is true. Great things start from a simple courage and decision to give it a try, and this is only possible when you embrace the reality that if you want to pursue your UKRN dream, you have to take (and pass) the CBT.
GET THE LOWDOWN ON WHAT YOU ARE UP TO. Know more about the NMC.
This is basically one of the things that you need to do first before you review your fundamental nursing concepts. Read the news, latest articles and manuals especially the The Code for nurses and midwives. You NEED TO KNOW the process. Remember that this is UK and the registration process is different. Familiarization with the professional standards that you need to uphold will guide you all throughout the process. Also, read the Candidate Booklet for the Test of Competence Part I. It includes important points that you need to know before, during and after the CBT exam, as well as the DOs and DON’Ts.
MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOU HAVE THE CORRECT SET OF REVIEW MATERIALS. Q: What makes CBT a stressful examination? A: There are no explicit resources and review materials, which makes it truly unpredictable and agonizing. The good news is, there is seemingly one resource material that the previous test takers advised me to consider, and this would be the The Royal Marsden Manual of Nursing Procedures.
Here’s how it looks like:
Unfortunately, there is no paperback copy of this book in the Philippines available for purchase, but you can order and purchase this through various online retailer of books and other stuff. Please just be careful and responsible enough. Buy items on reputable and authorized sites only to prevent yourself from getting into trouble. You won’t be needing your nursing books for the CBT but if you think that you need to review some concepts, always feel free to consult them, but just make sure you don’t spend most of your time reviewing the entire book. Just get the important details only, but do not just leaf through the pages of the review materials. This is not a test of speed. Trust me when I say YOU NEED some background knowledge about the concepts. But, as far as the CBT examination is concerned, I think the Royal Marsden would be sufficiently enough.
DON’T FORGET TO BROWSE FOR MORE HANDY SOURCES. All throughout my review period for CBT, I found some sites that helped me bigtime. I’ll share the four of them so that you don’t need to spend your time searching for tons of internet sources, articles and archives that might drown and confuse you.
NICE provides a collection of pathways and guidance on how to do something or about how to deal with problems in health and healthcare
RCN provides policies and additional info to ensure effective practice and governance
NHS a website that has easy-to-understand medical information, health articles and columns for various area of medical concern. It’s like Medscape, but UK version.
There’s one more material that people find very useful – the NMC Blueprint. It contains (MANY) links that will lead you to pages containing articles about a certain topic. I was not able to check everything because there were so many of them. If you can’t finish all the articles on the blueprint, it’s okay. Do not worry too much because just like what I have told you a while ago, the above mentioned resource materials would be enough.
CALM DOWN. Stop comparing and do not add pressure to your days of agony. I know how you feel, and there are feelings that you can’t just contain. I have experienced that also but I ended up really anxious afterwards. It’s possible that we seek for reassurance during these times, which is why we read about other people’s experiences and CBT outcomes and make these as the basis for our own. It’s completely okay to ease some tensions that we have for the exam, and I see nothing wrong with that. But the CBT results are always unpredictable. For me, you have to work on your routines all by yourself so that you can handle your anxiety well. Remember that you have to work hard if you want to get or achieve something. Hard work, perseverance and discipline always bear good results.
ON THE DAY OF YOUR EXAMINATION, BE EARLY. Don’t you dare bend the rules. I know we’re accustomed to the “Filipino Time” culture but this time, take that idea outta your head and GO TO THE TESTING CENTRE AHEAD OF TIME. You won’t lose anything if you go there early, but if you arrive late, say goodbye to the CBT exam and your exam fee. You may need to retake the exam for this.
REVIEW YOUR ANSWERS. You’ve been hearing this instruction since pre-school years but I’m telling you, it never gets old! CBT exam questions are not as comprehensive and complicated as the ones you’ll encounter in the NCLEX but never underestimate the CBT questions. You might not notice the importance of this because you have 240 minutes to finish the exam and that’s more than enough time to check on your answers. The questions may look very simple and the choices might have more than two correct answers, but you need to concentrate and look for the irregularities in the questions and the choices. I know we’re all aware of these points already but I consider this as one of the most important tips that I could give you. Don’t be over confident, review your answers.
IF YOU FAIL, TRY AGAIN. Well, failing on your first attempt is always possible. Mourn for awhile but be sure to have the courage to try once more. I know it’s hard but you have to. Be very careful this time though. You are only allowed to take the test twice. Reflect on your weakest areas and do something about them. Focus more and study hard. Try to recall difficult questions on the actual exam and do some research. Go over those topics all over again and don’t stress too much. I’m sure you’ll do better the second time around. 😉
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PRAYERS. The most important of all of course is prayer. This might sound like a hackneyed phrase but it works! At times like these, when things are uncertain, leave everything to Him and just do your best. You’ll never regret. God’s works are just amazing! 🙂
Life is a luxury. More often than not, your nurse friends have a deeper perspective about life. They have become more punctilious in every aspect of their living because they know that life is not something you can keep for a lifetime, and they know exactly how it can be taken away from you, especially at times when you least expect it. Try everything you want while you still can. Go to places you’ve never been before and enjoy yourself even more. Find your routine to serve as a ploy for you to balance your “busy” work. Nurses are busy people too, but they get their work done efficiently and thus have time to do what they want and get a life. 😉
Don’t trust everything you see and hear. A hospital is not just a place for your typical medical cases, it is also overwhelmed with cases of daily hassles and gossips. Being critical is an important lesson that you can get from nurses, but not to the point of becoming judgemental. Nurses know that there’s an underlying reason for every complaint and mishap, which is why they carefully investigate further to fairly rectify the situation they’re facing. It is therefore important to verify the things you’ve been getting from people around you. These days, false accusations are evident and people easily jump into conclusions, which stirs up conflicts and feud. Always know the truth behind the words and actions to avoid hurting others.
At work: Be all in or get all out. There is no halfway. Some nurses, unlike other professionals and co-nurses, value their work more than their time off. In reality, nursing is one of the most unpromising careers that we have today and the odds of getting the chance to fairly practice the profession is somewhat bleak for reasons I need not to elaborate. So, getting a short-term contract with few/no benefits is always better than having nothing at all. Since work isn’t always there for them, they do their duties well and to the best of their abilities to serve their clients. They don’t get fussy about their workloads and you hardly hear them complain about work. Despite of the circumstances, they are surprisingly dedicated to the task at hand. Work is something we usually take for granted. We’re too busy complaining that we forget to do our tasks efficiently and effectively. If you do not want it, then drop it, so others would have the chance to try it out. But if you think that you’ll get something from it, no matter how taxing the job is, do your very best. It’s either you give up or go on. There’s no in between to succeed in your chosen field. There’s no way you can thrive in your career halfhearted.
You got your own back. Ever wondered why nurses can do almost anything? It’s because they are used to do things on their own. They seek help once in awhile but most of the time, they do their stuff all by themselves – and it is a good thing to consider. You allow yourself to make decisions and commit mistakes, and you learn from them. You become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses. The more stressful the situation you’re facing, the more you are capable of handling the problems that will come into your life. You’ll become more comfortable at dealing with your own demons. You learn to think independently and decisively that you would never have to worry about what’s in store for you because you know you can always count on yourself. Never underestimate your capabilities. Always, always bet on yourself!
Travel reasonably. Ironically, despite of their shifting schedule and limited time outside of work, nurses are fond of traveling. They always make time for such pleasure to grab the opportunity to escape the pressure from work. But not all travels have to be modish, sometimes even a simple trekking can be as exciting as the other pricey trips we all engage in. That is when the nurses’ practicality comes in. Their practicality sometimes sucks, but it can save you from bungles. They always have something in mind to turn a simple trip into a thrilling one. They plan ahead of time and have substitutes to everything. They know the best places for every occasion and the most delish edibles without costing an arm and a leg in the payer’s part. Traveling isn’t about how much you’ve spent or how popular your destination is. It does not have to be extravagant. People nowadays go to places just to have something to post on their social media accounts, swanking about the sought-after places they’ve been. Traveling must be some kind of an experience that one can treasure for the rest of their lives.
Habits change into character. As we all know, not all habits are bad, but not all habits are good either. Nurses are exposed to different habits and routines in their workplaces, and some are like rituals that they need to conform to in order to fit in. These practices are not new to us. Every profession has this kind of pattern that everyone should follow. Not all nurses uphold these workplace norms especially if those practices do not benefit the patients and just threaten inept and timid nurses. Remember that you don’t always have to conform. Have the courage to do what is right and always choose to do it even if others don’t. You are what you repeatedly do, and that is what will define you. Good habits breed good character.
I am thankful that this year, I get to celebrate the Christmas season with my family, and believe it or not, I truly mean it. Even though this year has been very unpromising when it comes to my career, I can still say that I am not as hapless as what others think I am. I choose not to consider this setback as a misfortune-though there are many reasons why I should-because I know that difficulties don’t last for always. To be honest, I still find it hard to accept that things did not turn out well. I’m a dissembler if I say that it’s fine, when it’s not. Everything went smoothly and perfectly…who ever thought that it would all doom into failure? Well, everybody will have the same thoughts if they are in my position right now. Everyone can be mawkishly sentimental at it just like how I’m feeling for a couple of months now, but I’m certain that it’s normal and inevitable. I know that I have to go on despite of life’s uncertainties, and eventually let go of the things that are beyond my grasp. I have to trust God, especially in times like this, when I’m losing my confidence in everything. I may become vulnerable and weak, but I know God will guide and lead me back to where I should be. I think that’s what this setback is trying to show me. I have to keep the faith.