Archive for April 15, 2016

Preparing for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)

Simulation Poster 015After completing nursing school, every practical nurse (PN) and registered nurse (RN) in the United States must first pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to obtain a license. A final step in the journey toward practicing as a nurse, the exam is designed to test essential knowledge and skills necessary for safe and effective care. While preparing for a comprehensive exam, like the NCLEX, can be challenging, Dr. Angela Amar, PhD, RN, FAAN, Assistant Dean of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Education at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, said that nurses build the foundation for success throughout their nursing education.

“Preparation for the NCLEX begins on Day 1 of nursing school,” said Dr. Amar, “All of our coursework, assignments, and testing follows the NCLEX blueprint designed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).”

Preparation and perseverance are the keys to success with NCLEX. Dr. Amar offers some tips and strategies to help ease nurses’ anxiety and better prepare them for a successful NCLEX experience the first time around.

Start the Registration Process Early 

State Licensure: Know the licensure requirements for the state where you intend to practice. The licensure requirements and deadlines are different for each state. Visit the board of nursing’s website for the specific state where you intend to practice (for the State of Georgia, visit: Find out if there are any special requirements and address these as quickly as possible. Georgia, like many states requires a criminal background check, which can take several weeks. The State of Tennessee has a special form for first-time, out-of-state applicants that must be requested from the state’s board of nursing and is not available online. To avoid unnecessary delays and additional fees, do your due diligence well in advance of taking the NCLEX to ensure that you have met all of the state’s necessary licensure requirements.

Register with Pearson Vue: In addition, to registering with state licensing boards, you also need to apply to take NCLEX with the test vendor Pearson Vue. Registration can be completed online, by mail, or by telephone. I encourage nurses to call the testing center where they intend to take the exam ahead of time. Some test centers are really busy and have a backlog of students needing to schedule a test date. You may be able to schedule and earlier test date if you are willing to travel outside of your immediate area.

ATT Authorization: After the board of nursing authorizes your eligibility to test, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT). Keep this in a safe place. You will need to present this at your testing site to be admitted to the exam.

Prepare Yourself Mentally
Have confidence in yourself. As with many things in life, attitude is everything. If you are eligible to take your state boards, you have already triumphed through the rigors of nursing school and have the knowledge you need to succeed with the NCLEX exam. The NCLEX exam is not filled with trick questions or new information. The exam is designed to evaluate your critical thinking and ability to apply your knowledge and nursing skills in real-world scenarios. Nurses hone these critical analytical skills in the classroom and through experiential learning opportunities throughout their nursing education. The NCLEX style of questioning will be familiar to you from your testing in nursing school.

Analyze – not Memorize  
Memorization can be helpful for some information that may be needed for the NCLEX such as, units of measurement, and laboratory values. But attempting to memorize every detail that you have learned during nursing school will only serve to overwhelm and distract your focus from the mission at hand. Focus on truly understanding the broader concepts of nursing practice knowledge and patient needs in such areas as safe and effective care management, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity. Practice the areas that gave you difficulty during nursing school.

Understand the Question  
Read the question carefully, so that you are clear on what is really being asked. Don’t over-analyze the question and deliberate over potential ‘what-if’s.’ The NCLEX questions are focused much more broadly. Understand the rationales of the questions. Think about the concept to which the question is relating and organize your thoughts around that topic.

Don’t Get Bogged Down Trying to Figure Out the Testing Methodology  
The NCLEX exam is administered in a computerized adaptive testing format, which means that each test is tailored to the examinee. Each time the examinee answers a question, the computer will re-estimate his or her probability for success and present the next question based on how they performed with preceding questions. The computer stops the test once performance at a certain level is demonstrated to be the test-taker’s highest ability level. I tell nursing students not to panic if the computer doesn’t shut off after 75 questions. It just means the computer is still trying to figure them out. Most students receive an average of 100 to 110 questions. Likewise, if you are given some easy questions following a few difficult ones, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t answer the previous questions correctly. The NCLEX also includes at random several test questions (that don’t count) for future exams. Don’t waste time trying to figure out the testing mechanism. Keep calm and keep your head in the game. As long as the computer keeps asking you questions, you are still in the running.

Take Advantage of the Resources Available to You     Deliberate Prac 015
Before you study for the exam, take a practice test, so that you know where you need to concentrate your focus. There are many study guides and resources available, but make sure that the materials that you are using are based on the most recent test. Emory University’s School of Nursing has a list of recommended resources available on its website. Don’t be shy about utilizing your mentors if you need extra help.


aamar-HiRes (1)Angela Amar PhD, RN, FAAN
Associate Professor,
Assistant Dean for BSN Education

Angela Amar joined the School of Nursing in September 2012. She earned a doctoral degree in nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in nursing and a bachelor’s degree in nursing, both from Louisiana State University Medical Center.

Taking the Sneeze out of Spring: Helpful Tips for Surviving Allergy Season

Spring is in the air, and so are billions of tiny pollen particles from blooming plants, grasses, and budding trees that trigger allergy symptoms in more than 50 million people every year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The yellow, powdery dust covering everything from cars to patios this time of year is as much a signature of the season as the chorus of birds and the bursting colorful landscapes. But contrary to common misperceptions, this yellow pollen is not responsible for triggering for peoples’ sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes. Nurse Practitioner, Clint Shedd, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, said the real culprits are the microscopic grains of pollen that are not visible.

“Pine pollen is what causes the clouds of yellow dust that you see outside,” said Dr. Shedd. “But its particles are too large to be allergenic to most people. Pollen from hardwood trees, grasses and weeds that are light, dry, and carried by wind are what most often causes allergy symptoms.”

The good news is that there is a lot that people can do to ease their suffering. Dr. Shedd shares some helpful information and tips for surviving spring allergy season.

What makes spring particularly difficult for allergy sufferers?     
People are exposed to potential allergens all year-long without ever knowing it. Most of the time, these allergens are not problematic. What makes spring particularly challenging is the compounding effect of irritants from a variety of other sources. The warm, moist conditions creates the ideal environment for things like mold, dust mites, and cockroaches that can trigger both asthma and allergies.  At the same time, trees, trees, grasses, and weeds are starting to bloom and release pollen into the atmosphere. If you consider your allergies a bucket and it’s already three-quarters full with the allergen exposures that humans normally experience year-round, and then you add pollen on top of that, the proverbial bucket eventually overflows and you develop symptoms.

Georgia’s allergy season also lasts longer than in other parts of the country due to its climate and abundance of tress. ‘Peak season’ lasts 10-months and runs between late February and November.

What causes the irritation?
Pollen grains carry 30-40 different proteins on their exterior that are necessary for successful pollination. When pollen grains are breathed in through the nasal passages or come in contact with the membranes of the eye, the immune system mistakenly interprets these proteins as ‘foreign bodies’ and immediately goes into hyper-drive to rid the body of these otherwise harmless substances. It releases a special class of antibodies to attack the allergens, which, in turn, sets off a series of chemical reactions designed to protect the body from infection. Histamines are among the chemicals released into the blood stream during this process and are responsible for triggering the symptoms – the runny nose, swelling, redness, and itchiness – that many experience during pollen season.

What can people do to reduce their exposure to pollen?
There isn’t much you can do about the daily pollen count or the air quality outside, but there are several things that people can do to reduce your exposure to these irritants.  If you are sensitive to pollen, limit your time outdoors as much as possible. As soon as you come home, take off your shoes and change your clothes to limit the pollen and other allergens that you take inside with you. Keep the windows of your home shut and run the air conditioner to continuously recirculate the air inside your home. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters can also be helpful in filtering out dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens from the air inside your home. Wash your hair at the end of the day and frequently wash your hands and face.  Saline lavages, or saltwater nasal rises can also be helpful in flushing irritants out of the nasal passages.

When are allergies more than a minor irritation?
For most people, over-the-counter medications like nasal sprays and antihistamines can help alleviate allergy symptoms like runny noses, watery eyes, sneezing and itching.

But when an adult or child has symptoms that can’t be managed by medicine or avoidance tactics and their symptoms are interfering with their lives and their ability to work, they should consult a specialist, who can help determine exactly what they are allergic to and develop an effective management plan.

Available treatments options for severe allergy sufferers?
For the minority of patients who have severe allergies or asthma triggered by allergies that can’t be controlled with medication and behavioral methods, allergy shots can be very beneficial.

The allergy shots contain a serum of the actual protein of whatever is prompting the patient’s allergic response. The serum is injected into the back of a patient’s arm and contains a very small quantity of the protein that is gradually increased over time. By introducing the proteins it modifies the patient’s immune system and down regulates their allergic response to those proteins over time, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Clint Shedd, DNP, FNP-BC Dr. Clint Shedd, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, earned his Doctorate of Nursing Practice and his Masters of Nursing from the Georgia Health Sciences University. His background is in critical care, pulmonary and allergy medicine.

Admission and Access

At Emory University, we pride ourselves on the mixture of people,beliefs, values, and social circles that make up our campus community. Diversity is multidimensional, leading to a community composed not only of different ethnicities, races, and religions, but also different social backgrounds, geographic locations, and life experiences.

As we shape an incoming class, we look for students who will build upon the campus’ already rich landscape. This is not always easy. High-achieving students come from all family back- grounds as well as from both rural and urban communities. Many student populations are underrepresented or come from families unfamiliar with the college search and application process and who have little access to resources to help them.

Through strategic initiatives, we seek to provide students of all backgrounds many opportunities to experience Emory’s campus and student body, learn about our rigorous programs, and successfully enroll upon admission.

QuestBridge ( is a national non-profit organization connecting the nation’s brightest, underserved students with leading higher education institutions. They aim to increase the percentage of low-in-come students attending the nation’s best universities, and Emory University is one of 37 partner institutions for their College Match program.

This year Emory received 1,708 QuestBridge admission applications (up from 1,431 last year) and ultimately narrowed that list down to those students who will become part of the Emory Class of 2020. Last year nearly a hundred QuestBridge applicants did so. Additionally, six QuestBridge Scholars were selected to join the Class of 2020.

In July 2015, Emory also hosted a QuestBridge Conference, welcoming approximately 200 students and their families from across the nation. The role of the conference was to educate guests on the QuestBridge application process as well as introduce them to each of the (then) 36 partner universities. Hosting the conference allowed us to showcase the university and introduce families to the opportunities of Atlanta as well. Emory has recently been selected to host another Quest- Bridge Conference in the summer of 2017, and the Office of Admission welcomes this great opportunity!

Essence is a fly-in program held in the spring for admitted African American and Latino students. Typically these students have been admitted to several selective universities from across the country. This year approximately 100 students will spend two nights and three days experiencing residence halls, engaging with current students, and exploring campus. The program will take place April 14 to 16.

CORE ( was first held in the fall of 2014 for high-achieving high school seniors who are either first-generation college applicants and/or from underrepresented or low socioeconomic backgrounds. This year 60 students were selected to participate in the fly-in program (up from 55 last year). Arriving from across the nation for three days and two nights, students sat in on class faculty lectures, participated in campus life, and learned about the application and financial aid processes. We also hosted a COREtural Night, where a wide variety of individual students and diversity- focused clubs performed, showcasing the wide range of what diversity means at Emory.


In an unprecedented move, a group of over 90 diverse public and private colleges and universities have formed a partnership to reframe the college application process, starting with the Class of 2021. Current Coalition schools include Emory, Duke, Dartmouth, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Ohio, State, Michigan, Princeton, Wake Forest, and Vanderbilt, just to name a few.

The Coalition is developing a free platform of online tools to streamline the college application experience as well as allow students to curate a “locker” of their academic and non-academic accomplishments. The Coalition seeks to put the student first, promote access to underserved populations, and innovate the college application process for students and their families.

The first iteration of the Coalition platform will go live in April 2016. Beginning in fall 2016, Emory University will accept the new Coalition Application and continue to accept the Common Application and the QuestBridge Application.

Each of these programs and platforms is designed to provide students with hands-on, true-to-life college experiences as well as provide the tools they need to succeed in the college application process. Our desire is to build a relationship with each student and help coach them through what otherwise may be seen as an overwhelming endeavor—applying to a rigorous institution like Emory. Each year we see many unique students enroll as a result of these initiatives, and we look forward to seeing what the Emory Class of 2020 will bring.
– Lisa Coetzee, Communications Manger
Reprinted with permission from The Admission Review

Emory QuestBridge Scholars
Six outstanding students were selected as QuestBridge Scholars in December 2015, becoming the very first members of the Class of 2020. Along with being strong academically, these students are also actively involved in their high schools and communities. The QuestBridge Scholars will will join the Emory community this fall and begin to make their mark both inside and outside the classroom. Here’s what a few of the students had to say.

Miranda Krist
Mesa, Ariz.
Intended Major: Nursing
Dream Job: Not sure yet.
My proudest moment so far is getting accepted to Emory! (It sounds a little cliche, but I’m serious!) I’m also really proud of being accepted, as a sophomore, to the Arizona All State Choir. I was so excited because I had worked so hard on preparing my audition. It was a fantastic experience

Nate SnyderNate Snyder
Gastonia, NC

Intended Major: Nursing
Dream Job: Chief Nursing Officer
My proudest academic achievement thus far was attending the North Carolina Governor’s School, a highly-selective summer residential academic program for the elite students of the state, the oldest of its kind in the U.S. I’ve also been selected as a principal dancer at Gaston Dance Theatre, performing lead roles in shows such as The Nutcracker, West Side Story, and Wicked.