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I've finished!  I graduated with High Honors on Thursday the 23rd!  (This entry is a couple of weeks behind...)

So, week 17 included more of my 'bridging' clinical days.  I had 2 more 12-hour shifts, one with a different preceptor, and an 8-hour shift.  I worked on being able to care for 3-4 patients fairly independently (as independent as I could be considering I can't remove medications from the computerized cabinet, the preceptor has to check all medications and supervise all IV procedures anyway, and I can't transcribe or verify new orders from the physician's order-entry system!).

Week 18 started with my very last clinical day on Monday, followed by my final evaluation with my instructor.  With this completed, I turned in my Graduation Checklist to the main office, along with surrendering my ID badge.  (Other items on the checklist included Financial Aid exit counseling, presenting the mandated-reporter certificate required by NYS for all nurses and others who could encounter children in their practice, updating my address, etc...).

Tuesday was the Pinning Ceremony/Convocation.  This was held in a hotel ballroom.  Each graduate received a pin from the College, presented by a faculty member of our choice or by a family member who is a nurse.  Nursing pins have a long tradition, although it seems they are mostly worn at formal events now.  (The white starched cap was unique to each nursing school as well, and when nurses wore white uniforms I think wearing a pin with the uniform was more common.  Now, though, no one wears white caps and everyone wears scrubs.)

Thursday was the Graduation ceremony.  This was held in the chapel of the big university here in town.  It's an old building, with no air conditioning!  Fortunately, it wasn't too hot that day.  We all processed in caps & gowns, received our diplomas onstage, etc...  Most of the faculty attended in caps and robes as well (nearly all of the faculty have MS degrees or higher).

So, what's next?  I need to study for the NCLEX exam, and I need to refrain from tearing my hair out while I wait to schedule a test date.  NYS won't give approval to take the test until they've received proof of graduation from the school, which is apparently sent by carrier pigeon.  (We've been told it takes 3-4 weeks after graduation to get approval.)  I'm antsy because 1) my job depends on me taking it before I start!, 2) I've heard rumors that it's very difficult to actually get a test date this year (also see #1), and 3) it's hard to study or plan when I don't even know when the exam will be!

In the meantime, we've put in our garden, but iffy weather this week means we might need to replace a few seedlings.  We had frost warnings Sunday night but it's supposed to be 90° on Friday...that's hard on tiny seedlings!  We're expecting a visit from my aunt and uncle in a few weeks (crossing my fingers that this doesn't somehow interfere with the test!).  I'm hoping we might get a chance to go to VT before I start work, but we can't plan anything until I have that date!

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