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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.