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Double Feature 2020 Alumni Q&A's



Maegan Viloria

Graduated Fall 2019

Brain/Spine Unit

Hoag Newport


Q: Did you encounter anything unexpected or challenging when transitioning from SAC to a new grad RN?


A: What I found challenging through my transition from SAC student to new grad RN was understanding that not many nurses find a job right away in their area of interest. Most have to get their foot in the door at different facilities, gain work experience and slowly work their way up. I was lucky enough to get a job pretty quickly after graduation, but many of my classmates have had difficulties finding jobs.


Q: What was the hardest semester for you? Do you have any advice for current students?


A: The most difficult semester for me was fourth semester. A big part of that was my clinical instructor, who doesn’t teach anymore at SAC, but other than that the lecture content all builds on each other. I would recommend going to tutoring or studying in groups. Most of nursing school I tended to study alone or with one other person, but in fourth semester I found it very helpful to study in a group and hear the content explained in different ways.


Q: How long did you study for the NCLEX? What guides did you use?


A: I studied for the NCLEX for a total of about 2 weeks using mostly UWorld. I also attended the Kaplan NCLEX classes but I didn’t find them helpful at all. The layout of UWorld looked exactly like the actual NCLEX, which took off a bit of stress. I also found the answer explanations very helpful. In UWorld I would also recommend focusing on the sections that have the most questions.


Q: How long did you have to wait to be hired after passing the NCLEX?


A: It took me about 6 weeks to get hired as an RN after I passed the NCLEX. A big part of that was that I already worked at a hospital that knew that I was finished with nursing school and taking my exam soon so they kept a position open for me.


Q: Do you have recommendations or tips for working while in school?


A: I would work the least amount of hours possible while in nursing school. I stayed full-time at work while in school, but it would’ve been a lot less stressful if I didn’t have to. I would also recommend not working the days before exams if possible.


Q: Do you have studying or organization tips for current students?


A: For studying I would ask the current instructor the best way to study for their exams. Some will tell you to read while others will say to focus on PowerPoints or other content. I would also figure out what studying technique works best for you. I liked typing notes in class and making flash cards, while others recorded the lectures and listened to them at home multiple times.


Q: What were the most helpful learning experiences you gained from SAC?


A: The best learning experiences I had at SAC were at clinical and in the skills lab. Implementing the skills we learned in class was a lot different than just reading about them. I would recommend asking a lot of questions and jumping at opportunities to do as many skills as possible in clinical.


Q: What do you wish you knew during nursing school?


A: During nursing school I wish I knew how important it was to take time for myself and recharge. There were many times where I would feel very overwhelmed, but if I took one day or evening out of the week to recharge and relax it helped me stay balanced.


Q: How has it been working as a nurse? What separates your unit from the rest?


A: Working as a nurse on the stroke/brain/spine unit has made me realize that there are so many specialties within the nursing field. I constantly learn about and treat new neurological related diseases and injuries and it’s interesting to see the types of treatments available. I now understand that in school we barely touched the surface of nursing and there’s so much more room for learning and developing.

Teo Carachure

Graduated Fall 2018

Sub-ICU

Hoag Newport

Q: Did you encounter anything unexpected or challenging when transitioning from SAC to a new grad RN?


A: The transition to floor nursing was a learning curve. I believe SAC prepared me as best as they could. However, there is a learning curve attributed to aspects of floor nursing one must learn on the job. For example, the individuals the doctors or staff we may call at night, the documentation protocols, locating items, etc. With time, one becomes comfortable to navigate this area. However, it is a part of nursing that needs to be picked up on the job. There are other aspects that can never be taught in school such as dealing with your fall-risk patient constantly climbing over the railing or consoling a crying individual who is in incredible pain and they are already at their limits for their PCA pump. It is a burden you learn to carry.


Q: What was the hardest semester for you? Do you have any advice for current students?


A: I believe the first semester was the hardest. A transition to the expectation of nursing academia with different test questions from the traditional college curriculum. There is a need to use critical thinking needed to understand the material on a deeper level because eventually, this will be applied in real-life clinical. It is a learning curve to be develop clinical reasoning, but it is essential when preparing for this career.


Q: How long did you study for the NCLEX? What guides did you use?


A: After graduation, I took a few weeks to decompress and regain energy before seriously studying. It is a strong recommendation to avoid being burned out. Because of the gap between graduation and being eligible to actually sign up for an NCLEX testing date, there is time to relax before deep-diving in the material. I utilized the UWorld app where I would answer dozens of questions daily. I believe my average score ranged in the 60% even prior to the NCLEX date. The rationale learned in one question would help answer another. My focus when getting close to the NCLEX date was to practice my weak areas such as pediatrics to feel more confident.


Q: How long did you have to wait to be hired after passing the NCLEX?


A: My hospital had only two training dates for the critical care floor a year. I missed the beginning of year one as I graduated December 2018, so I had to wait until seven months later in July to start my new graduate nurse training. My new graduate train8ng consisted of about a month and half of classroom teaching. It was followed by 16 shifts with a preceptor to hone my skills.


Q: Do you have recommendations or tips for working while in school?


A: You have to make clear to your employers your priorities. The schedule you set is the one you need to have happen. I worked the night schedule, so I would avoid working the night before clinicals and tests. If they cannot respect it, then a reflection is needed to evaluate how important is becoming a registered nurse or staying with the same company.


Q: Do you have studying or organization tips for current students?


A: I recommend studying test questions on Quizlet in your respective semester. You become comfortable at the different approaches one can ask questions about a particular topic. My method for memorizing content like in a powerpoint involved ensuring I am able recall the information in my mind and outloud without interruptions like "uhmm".


Q: What were the most helpful learning experiences you gained from SAC?


A: I believe the clinical portion was the most applicable. By viewing the day-to-day responsibilities and expectation of nursing first-hand, I became very comfortable on the floor. This is confidence you want to have as a nurse to have the command presence to finish your tasks.


Q: What do you wish you knew during nursing school?


A: I wish I knew the toll it would take on my personal life. It becomes grueling, and requires large amount of time. Often, we would see each other more than we would see family. A proper support system is key to making it through nursing school.


Q: How has it been working as a Sub-ICU nurse? What separates your unit from the rest?


A: My unit may also go by Definitive Observation Unit, or Progressive Care Unit. Our patient population are ones that may become unstable and must be treated swiftly and decisively. We have more equipment to readily use such as BiPAP, fluid warmer, non-titratable vasopressors, etc. As a new graduate nurse, it is an incredible learning experience to gain the clinical skills and knowledge needed to adapt to various situations. It is rewarding work to be able to stabilize a patient by your own hand, and makes you motivated to pursue higher-level knowledge to be better than before.

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