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The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a national level nursing exam conducted in Canada and the United States for checking the knowledge and eligibility of nursing graduates before licensing them. This test is taken up by the individuals after completion of their graduation from nursing school to acquire the nursing license. The NCLEX exams are conducted by the NCSBN – National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. Acquiring licenses through the test gives the candidates permission to practice nursing in the above mentioned countries.

There are two types of the NCLEX test:

a) NCLEX-RN: National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses

b) NCLEX-PN: National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses

In this article, we will explore the test for the practical nurses.

NCLEX-PN: Overview

To acquire the licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), the individuals must pass the NCLEX Prep exam. It tests the candidate’s knowledge, abilities, and skills at the entry level to see if they are fit for the safe and effective practice of nursing. This test comes in the format of Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT). This technology is based on how one answered the previous question. The questions asked in the NCLEX-PN exam are based on the extensive nursing material, and according to this, the individuals are graded based on how intuitively they answer these questions.

NCLEX-PN: Exam Format

The question format of the NCLEX-PN test is multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, putting the steps in correct order, selection of correct answers from a list of various options, identification of correct area on a picture, information about a chart, graph, or an audio clip.

Due to the Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) feature of the exam, each candidate will have a different form of the test. This ensures different questions being asked to different students depending on how they answered the previous question. According to the CAT feature, each individual can get any number of questions between 75 and 265. Out of the first 75 questions answered by the candidates only 60 will make it to grading. The remaining 15 are asked on experimental basis to see if they are worthy to be asked in future exams, and these questions will not be added during grading the students.

The maximum time set for this exam is 6 hours with two 10-minute breaks: a mandatory one is after 2 and a half hours and an optional one – after 4 hours. The applicants are also free to take breaks whenever they wish in-between the test, but they will have to compensate it with the exam time.

Image source: Public Domain Files

NCLEX-PN: Subjects

NCLEX-PN exam focuses on four main subjects relating to the nursing field. Under these four main subjects, there are sub-sections as well. All the information regarding them is as follows:

1. Safe Effective Care Environment: It has two sub-sections, which include:

a) Coordinated Care: The practical/vocational nurse coordinated with the health care team members to provide proper and potent care to the patients. Other related subjects under this section are Advance Directives, Establishing Priorities, Advocacy, Ethical Practice, Client Care Assignments, Informed Consent, Client Rights, Information Technology, Collaboration with Interdisciplinary Team, Legal Responsibilities, Performance Improvement, Information Security, Referral Process, Continuity of Care, Resource Management, Concepts of Management and Supervision, and etc.

b) Infection Control and Safety: In this context, the practical/vocational nurse helps the clients and heath care personnel against health and environmental hazards. Other related subjects under this section are Accident/Injury/Error Prevention, Least Restrictive Restraints and Safety Devices, Emergency Response Plan, Safe Use of Equipment, Ergonomic Principles, Security Plan, Infectious Materials and Handling Hazardous, Home Safety, Standard, Precautions/Transmission-Based Precautions/Surgical Asepsis, Reporting of Incident/Irregular Variance/Occurrence, and so on.

2. Health Promotion and Maintenance: The practical/vocational nurse in this aspect helps the patients/clients with the information of health issues, stages of their growth and development, prevention or how they can be detected in early stages, and so on. It includes Aging Process, Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, Ante/Intra/Postpartum and Newborn Care, High Risk Behaviors, Data Collection Techniques, Lifestyle Choices, Developmental Stages and Transitions, Self-care, Community Resources, and etc.

3. Psychosocial Integrity: The practical/vocational nurse in the psychosocial aspect assists in aiding mental and emotional support to the patients suffering due to any kind of illness.This also includes some aspects, such as Abuse or Neglect, Mental Health Concepts, Behavioral Management, Spiritual and Religious Influences on Health, End-of-Life Concepts, Chemical Dependencies, Coping Mechanisms, Therapeutic Communication, Perceptual/Sensory Alterations, Stress Management, Support Systems, Crisis Intervention, Cultural Awareness, Therapeutic Environment, etc.

4. Physiological Integrity: In the physiological integrity aspects, the practical/vocational nurse helps by assisting in the encouragement of physical health and overall well-being of the patients by providing them care and comfort. This aspect covers four more sub-sections.

a) Basic Care and Comfort: In this section, the practical/vocational nurse helps the patient coordinate with the daily activities. This includes some aspects like Personal Hygiene, Assistive Devices, Rest and Sleep, Nutrition and Oral Hydration, Elimination, Immobility/Mobility, Non-pharmacological Comfort Interventions, and so on.

b) Pharmacological Therapies: This is related to the medicine administration and parental therapies. It involves aspects, such as Expected Outcomes/Actions, Medication Administration, Dosage Calculations, Pharmacological Pain Management, and etc.

c) Reduction of Risk Potential: This aspect deals with the potentials of complications arising from already present health issues, its treatments and procedures. It also comprises Diagnostic Tests, Abnormalities/Changes in Vital Signs, Laboratory Values, Potential for Alterations in Body Systems, Potential for Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Procedures/Treatments, Potential for Complications from Surgical Procedures and Health Alterations, Therapeutic Procedures, and etc.

d) Physiological Adaptation: In this matter, the practical/vocational nurse helps the patients who are suffering from acute, life-threatening or chronic physical health conditions and takes care of them during their presence in the health care centre. It also involves Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances, Medical Emergencies, Alterations in Body Systems, Basic Pathophysiology, Unexpected Response to Therapies, and so on.

To be informed about the registration and exam preparation, visit the webpage of the NCLEX test.


Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, a 49-year-old nursing home worker in Ontario, has been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder spanning several years.

She appeared in court on October 25.

The victims, five women and three men, were residents in two long-term care facilities where Elizabrth Wettlaufer worked and were between 75 and 96 years old.

Police said seven of the victims were given a fatal dose of a drug.

The victims were all residents of Caressant Care in Woodstock and Meadow Park in London, Ontario.

Woodstock Police Chief William Renton said at a news conference: “The victims were administered a drug… there are obviously a number of drugs that are stored and are available in long-term care facilities.”

Image source Facebook

Image source Facebook

He declined to comment on a possible motive, but did add that investigators are confident that they have identified all victims.

Caressant spokesman Lee Griffi said Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer was a registered nurse and left their employment approximately two and a half years ago.

“We deeply regret the additional grief and stress this is imposing on the families involved,” Lee Griffi said in a written statement.

The deaths took place between 2007 and 2014.

Police revealed little details about the motive or circumstances surrounding the deaths, but said that the investigation into all eight deaths started on September 29 after police in Woodstock received certain information.

The criminal case is the largest in Ontario province since 2006, when five men were charged for murdering eight members of the Bandidos biker gang.

All five of the accused men were convicted in 2009.

The investigation was a joint effort between Woodstock Police Service, London Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police.

Police said they do not know if there are other victims, but that Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer worked in other facilities.

They are urging the public to come forward if they have any information.

Police have identified the victims as:

  • James Silcox, 84
  • Maurice Granat, 84
  • Gladys Millard, 87
  • Helen Matheson, 95
  • Mary Zurawinski, 96
  • Helen Young, 90,
  • Maureen Pickering, 79


Working in the healthcare system is a public service. You’re helping people in their hour of need and in fast-paced, often stressful working conditions. People are at their wits end lying in a hospital bed. The cold, clinical setting of the hospital can only be as bearable as a compassionate and knowledgeable nursing staff.


A nurse is a mother, father, physician and priest all rolled into one. A pessimist might think, how is that? Think about the first time you had to go to the ER. Whether you broke your arm falling out of a tree or had an unusually high temperature, whom was it that calmed you down and explained in a composed, reassuring manner that you’d be well taken care of? The nurse. Who continued to check in on you throughout your hospital stay, administering treatment and making sure you were comfortable? The nurse.


There are four essential traits that anyone interested in becoming a registered nurse should possess. Some are inherent, while others can be learned. Check out the list below.

Photo Flickr

Photo Flickr

Empathy for Humanity (Inherent)

In a world filled with constant distraction, anonymous posts, and cruel behavior, empathizing with another person can be awfully trying. Not so for the nurse. Nurses have a profound grasp of the human spirit. To be compassionate and measure a patient’s aches and tempers with empathy and without judgment is a gift—a gift a nurse possesses.


Impeccable Training (Learned)

To be an invaluable part of the hospital staff, a registered nurse needs to have a solid education and training background. Critical thinking, technical skills, patient assessment aptitude, as well as understanding hospital protocol and disease management all are a must. For example, allied health schools like Arizona College offer a comprehensive curriculum in becoming a registered nurse. With a Bachelors of Nursing program steeped in research, science-based classes, and applied education practices, graduates hit the field with a level up on their associate-degree counterparts. Nurses don’t just provide patient care, but they help educate the public about health conditions while simultaneously providing emotional support to patients and caregivers. To do this well, a nurse needs the training.


Meticulously Detailed (Inherent & Learned)

Handling and administering medication and care for 10-plus patients requires an attention to detail that borders on the obsessive. Patients trust that their nursing staff understands their medical needs, and physicians believe the nursing staff to be able and knowledgeable in the patient care they’ve prescribed. To be a nurse requires an individual who will not confuse things or muddy the system. A talented nurse will instead improve the system through their expertise, know-how and can-do attitude.


Takes Tough Situations in Stride (Inherent & Learned)

For a nurse, it’s essential to remain calm under pressure. There are times (several times in a single day) that a nurse must make a swift decision in a medical situation, even if it’s an unpopular method with the patient or their caregivers. When a child is afraid of being pricked with a needle and is in an environment they’re unfamiliar with, parents won’t want to contribute to their toddler’s distress if the nurse calls for an IV. But when the nurse is able to clearly, accurately, and reassuringly explain why the child must be hooked up to an IV, the nurse has been able to help the patient. Even if the parents are still reluctant to go through with the procedure, they understand that they’re in good hands and should take the advice of the nurse. Conviction is nurtured by knowledge, and when a nurse has the education behind them, they have the confidence to gently guide their patients through the darkness and into the light.


If you possess any of the above qualities and you’re looking to becoming a nurse, you’re well on your way to a fulfilling career that’ll continue to stay in demand.