No matter the challenge, you just have to rise to the occasion and push through. That’s the kind of spirit it takes to accomplish your goals and Karley had that mindset from the start. Her determination saw her through the successful completion of the HCC Licensed Vocational Nurses program. Even when the HCC Associates of Nursing Program put her on the waiting list, she wasn’t stressed. She had judiciously applied to the LVN program as well. Quick to pivot, she accepted to enroll in that program instead and in one’s year time, is fully trained and employed. We are so happy to have been able to support her on her journey and can’t wait to keep up with her as she continues to grow into the medical professional she’s always aspired to be. The following is a condensed and edited version of our conversation.
Congrats on all your hard work that got you to this point! How did you decide to enroll in the LVN program?
I was finishing the prerequisites that I needed for the Associates of Nursing program. I actually applied for the Associates Degree in Nursing program, and the Licensed Vocational Nurse program at the same time. Then, I got accepted into the LVN and waitlisted for the ADN. I had recently had a baby so instead of waiting for the ADN, I just took the LVM instead. I just wanted to start so that I can go ahead and get a license, get a career and get my life moving.
And what kind of work were you doing before?
I've always kind of been in the medical field. In 2015, I was a medical assistant. And then, while I was at HCC doing my prerequisites, I was a PCA. I was taking care of a disabled little girl at her house. I've always just been working in the medical field. I was even working at a nursing home while I was in the LVN program.
Sounds like going into the LVN program was just a natural progression for you. What was being the program like?
I had a lot of issues with the program, mostly with some of the professors. It was definitely fast paced, but not too fast that I couldn’t focus on things. I feel like I had to do a lot of self-teaching to really get myself through the program. But I mean, I got it done. I enjoyed my clinicals. I think the clinicals were my favorite part. And the skill building was another favorite part.
What are the clinicals that you did?
The first one was at a clinic in Houston. We basically just watched other nurses give injections. We couldn't do any of them and only observed. It was just a way to help us get our hours. In the second semester, we went to a nursing home called Seven Acres which was fun. We followed around an LVN and got to give medications and insulin injections. And then the last one that we did during our last semester was at an HCA hospital. We were in the intensive care unit, the intermediate care unit and med surg units. We got to give medicine, do blood glucose and draw blood. We got to get really hands on in there.
And when did you hear about the Capital IDEA program?
It was at our online orientation. Juanita Jackson (CIH Eligibility Specialist) did a presentation about Capital IDEA Houston. So that's where I first heard about it and got started applying for it.
What did you think about the application process?
It was easy. Yeah, it was very easy. I just filled it out online on my own. And then I got a call for an interview and then another call for my acceptance interview, but I kind of just filled It out on my own.
What was the biggest support that you that you received from Capitol IDEA Houston?
It was probably my career navigator, Miss Alexis. She did a lot of check ins and VIP meetings, but she also called and texted. Anytime I was having issues or just frustrated with something, I honestly could just vent to her, and it made it a lot easier for me to not get so frustrated and annoyed by things going on. She was always there to give advice. I liked how easily accessible the navigators were.
What kind of support did you receive after you graduated?
I actually just got transferred over to the placement specialist a little while ago. It was still the same support. She’s been calling to ask how I was feeling about the NCLEX, if I was nervous, if I was studying. I received the same motivating support from her as well.
What was your strategy for passing the NCLEX?
CIH provided Uworld for me. You can have it as an app on your phone, or you can use it on your computer. I mostly used it on the computer.
Would you do practice tests on Uworld?
Yeah, so you have to pass the NCLEX with a 75 so on UWorld’s practice tests, you only got 75 questions. HCC gives you two longer practice test as well so, you can practice 75 questions all day long, but you only get two real practice ones and those went up to like 105 questions. I just divided it all up between the months leading up to the real test.
How similar was the material on UWorld to the test?
There were some medications that I learned about on UWorld that were on the exam and it was a little bit set up like the actual test, but it wasn't too similar. There were actually a lot of diseases on my NCLEX that I had never heard about but clearly my brain understood it because I passed. I was so nervous after taking the exam. I was sure that I had failed but apparently all the preparations worked because I did pass.
That’s awesome! How long was it after graduation that you took the test?
I graduated in August and I took my test on the second day of November, so I took like a month to study.
And then after, did you already have this job lined up?
After I took the exam, I just was applying and applying. I was trying to find a job with my temporary license but not a lot of people wanted to take it which was fine because those positions weren't what I was looking for anyway.
What was the DaVita interview like?
I was so nice. They basically just asked a lot of like scenario questions like how do you deal with sudden changes and how do those changes affect you? Questions like that. I was there for like an hour. The interviewer was cool.
Oh, nice. Did you have to go back for a second interview?
I had one interview on the phone and one in person. Glad it wasn't such a drawn-out thing. I had my interview on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and then they called me Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
That’s awesome! So now looking back, what do you think of Capital IDEA Houston? Is there anything we could be doing better?
Not necessarily. No, I didn't really have any complaints about the program. I mean, whenever I needed reimbursements, I would get my reimbursements quickly. If I needed any vouchers to buy the stuff I needed, I would get those fast as well. I don't think there were any issues for me. No, I don't have any complaints to be honest.
So tell me, throughout this process, what was it that was motivating you to keep going?
Honestly, it was my son. And, because I feel like I’m too old to not have a career. Everybody says, “do it at your own pace” and that’s fine but I was just ready to start figuring that part of my life out. I want to have my own place. Throughout the program, I lived at home with my mom and that was a big help. But now I’m ready to have my own place. I’m ready to do what I want to do. I was ready to say, I’m a nurse. When I had my son, that kind of just, amped it up a little more. I was already going to do it, but with him, I was like, Okay, well, now I have to do it. For me and for him.
And how would you encourage someone else to go ahead and do it? To get a degree or a license?
I always use my mom as an example. My mom’s been a nurse for years. She was an RN for like 20 plus years. Two years ago, she got her nursing practitioner license, her master’s and she’s like 53. So, I always use her as an example. I’m like, my mom went back and did it. You’re never too old to go back to school.
No one’s going to knock you down just because you’re older and going back to school. They’re going to praise you for it. So, I’m always for people going back to school.
That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for your time and congrats again on all you’ve accomplished. We are all so excited for this next chapter in your life!
If you are ready to jump start your livelihood, join us at one of our upcoming information sessions to find out how we have helped more than a thousand students achieve self-sufficiency and get the training they needed with a sponsorship from Capital IDEA Houston: www.capitalideahouston.org/infosession