The Prep Work

peace archBefore I can start the antidotes and stories, I feel it is important to set the stage of details and dilemmas that preceded this wondrous journey.

Months before leaving Canada, there were plenty of tasks to complete in order to begin a nursing career in the USA. Each task was stressful, expensive and all required some kind of a flaming hoop to be jumped through.

The first step of many included applying for a USA nursing license. Living and working near the USA and BC border made Washington state seem like an obvious choice. I figured, if I had never left Canada, the opportunity to work in Bellingham or Seattle may eventually present itself and I would be prepared for that opportunity. The biggest obstacle of obtaining a Washington license was having to write the NCLEX.

The NCLEX, is an exam new graduate nurses take to obtain licensure in the USA in order to practice nursing. In Canada we have a similar exam called the CRNE, these exams are national but not international. In 2009 after completing my Bachelors in the Science of Nursing (BSN), I wrote the CRNE and passed. Now, six years later, with all my infinite wisdom, writing the NCLEX should be no problem, correct?

Two days prior to exam time, I spoke with a co-worker who advised me that she had attempted the same exam and FAILED! Oh my goodness!


I understand the choice to not study, wasn’t smart; however, this exam is designed for new graduates. I am far from a new grad, so I should have this! RIGHT?

Knowing that failure was an NOT an option, panic set in! The exam invigilator required 24 hours notice to cancel or change a test sitting and I was not afforded this time, I was going to have to wing it!

For future reference, this is not the way to approach this or any exam.

My mantra, “think like a new nurse, think like a new nurse”.

PHEW! I pulled off a pass!

Version 2

The next steps in the process were to get my education verified, a visascreen, and find a job. These tasks, although time consuming and expensive were not too strenuous (with the exception of finding a job). Documents needed to be obtained, simple enough. But, I had time…

Time, yes… there was no imminent plan to relocate to the USA; however, dating an American (a nomad at that) dictates the potential for moving south. If there was chance, I felt I must be prepared for anything!

As you can imagine, the process is not cheap or speedy. Here’s a breakdown of the approximate costs…

WA state license application was $88 (each state is different).

Education verification $350.

NCLEX $350.

Visascreen $550.

And all this took approximately 8 months to process…

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