It is very tempting to take this year, find a job, study up, and take the test when the year is up. Unfortunately, this method usually results in nothing but heartbreak.
However, getting a job can provide you financial security, ingrain what you learned in nursing school, and give you some time to systematically study your materials.
It is a difficult decision to make, and there are pros and cons to each option. You have to decide which is best for you based on the information available.
Taking the NCLEX
The benefits of taking the NCLEX first are many. If you take the test as soon as you are out of school, the material will still be fresh in your mind.
Another reason to take the test is that you will probably have a lot of free time to study while you look for a job. Job hunting can take a while, and having your NCLEX makes you more attractive to HR representatives at facilities.
Some downsides of taking the NCLEX so quickly may revolve around money problems. After living as a poor student you may want to get a job as quickly as possible, so you have some money.
Another problem is that if you fail the NCLEX, you can’t even work as a new grad nurse. You have to wait another testing cycle before you can take it again, and this means you cannot further your skills as an RN.
Getting a Job
Jobs are a touchy topic in the nursing world. In some regions it is easy to find any job you want, but some nurses are finding that it is difficult to get a job at all.
If you live in an area where the jobs are plentiful, you might want to get a job as fast as you can. Those jobs may not be there after you have passed NCLEX and you could miss out on a dream opportunity.
Money is good too, but the experience you get from working on a nursing floor is worth so much more than that. It can actually help with NCLEX and get you quickly on your feet as a nurse.
One of the downsides of getting a job first is that the further away you are from school, the harder it gets to remember the particulars that you learned. It is also embarrassing to fail NCLEX and then have to work as a CNA until you pass it.
Deciding Between the Two
Deciding which to do first is a personal decision and it can greatly impact your professional life. It really depends on your circumstances.
If money is important you should try your hardest to find a job, but still keep studying for NCLEX. In fact, don’t stop studying for it until you actually take it or you will forget everything that you learned.
Also, don’t get caught up with how things are done on your job. That can greatly influence how you answer questions and can lead to wrong choices on the test.
The ideal situation is to pursue both simultaneously. Go on a job hunt and schedule your NCLEX test date. It’s a good way to start your career off on the right track.