Wednesday, May 12, 2010


All this week, I've been trying to bring my classmates down-- they've been nervous about the HESI, a standardized test we take at the end of our first and second years of nursing school. As a former teacher, I pointed out that these tests are not to trick, punish or trip them up; they're simply their means of making sure that you've learned what you're supposed to have learned.

Still, as the test approached, I too started succumbing to nervousness. I spent a lot of yesterday looking over my notes and reviewing meds, labs and vital signs. As the evening approached, I had a couple of glasses of wine and went for a walk, trying to stay calm. I had trouble sleeping last night. Later, talking to others, they had experiences similar to mine; when we did drift off to the brief sleep we got, we kept dreaming of content-- statistics, nursing concepts and other things we learned kept filling our dreams.

As I got ready to go, waiting for a ride with one of my classmates, I couldn't resist a bit of superstition. The second to last year my son played baseball, as I left my son's last game of the season, I found a Red Sox hat on the ground, apparently discarded by one of the kids. The hats the kids were issued were of high quality-- official Major League Baseball products. Besides being a Cub fan, I've always cheered for a handful of other teams: the Detroit Tigers, the Minneapolis Twins-- and the Boston Red Sox. I took the hat home, washed it and began to wear it whenever I needed a hat to wear.

The next year, Adam was on the Red Sox in his league. I took this-- finding the hat-- to be an omen. And sure enough, it was his best year. He had a coach who gave him a chance to get out of the doldrums of right field, where his old coach had stuck him, and allowed him to play first base, third base and eventually pitching. His team went all the way to the league championship, where they lost in three games. My son got to pitch in that series. He took the series loss in stride; his goal, he told me, was to play in a championship. The fact that he lost to a team coached by his favorite former coach undoubtedly took the sting out of the series loss.

In any event, the hat, which I wore to a lot of the games, became my lucky hat. I couldn't resist bringing it to the test today. It must have worked. I got a 937 out of 1000, oddly almost exactly the same score as I got on the pre-test in January (940).

I was the first one in my group done; there were 110 questions, mostly multiple choice, and I either knew the answer or didn't. I didn't spend a lot of time mulling over questions I wasn't certain on. I gave it my best guess and moved on. Once you were done with a question, you were done. You couldn't return to it.

When you finished the test, you got your results immediately. I gathered my belongings and went out, barely able to resist the urge to do the "happy dance" on the way out.

I had to wait for my friend Justine, who I'd caught a ride with, so I relaxed in the hall, chatting with the secretary from the nursing department, who was also relaxing in the hallway. I mentioned to her that a year before, I'd talked to one of my customers at the restaurant who was getting ready to take this very test. I kept in touch with that woman, Elena, and discovered from the secretary that she'd passed her second year HESI on Monday. I was delighted. Later on, I'm going to email a congratulations.

As other students started coming out, I was able to tell immediately who had passed. I kept joking, "Well, you're not crying..." Over time, most of my classmates from the photo in the last post came out. They had passed.

I did find out some sad news. First, only 26 of 30 people in my class had registered that morning. Apparently four people did not make grade. Also, Joe, a former classmate who had also been in the picture from the previous post, and whom I had not seen around school for a couple of weeks, had dropped before the end of the semester. Later, Michelle, who I had become good friends with when we took Anatomy I and II together, came out looking distressed. She had just missed passing, and will have to go to summer school. I was puzzled-- she had always smoked me in previous classes we'd taken together, getting A's when I got B's. She told me that she had trouble with big tests-- that she froze up. I wish I'd known that before. Later, when she's not so upset, I'm hoping I can give her some suggestions about things I learned when I was a teacher.

In the meantime, tonight I can celebrate this, and celebrate my 49th birthday, which was yesterday. I think I've earned it.


mi said...

for sure you have!

johnny, i'm so impressed that you've gone through this journey. i'm looking forward to hearing what this new career brings for you.

SkylersDad said...

I think you have more than earned it! I can't imagine doing the same thing that you have, changing careers and having to study again. I struggle these days with concentration, I think I am developing ADD!

Churlita said...

Cheers! and Cheers! For your birthday AND passing your exam.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I am very pleased for you, but I have to admit I am not at all surprised with your stellar results. You a smarty, dude!

How great that you get your marks immediately. No refreshing that page every five minutes for a week while you wait for your mark to show up. You shoulda done that happy dance.