The Dance of the Stressed Out Introvert

For the last two weeks and still counting, I’ve been dancing the Dance of the Stressed out Introvert. It’s somewhat similar to the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, with all its turns, jumps and leaps. It even goes along to the same tune! But instead of the Sugarplum Fairy leaping into the arms of the Sugar Plum prince to create a beautiful dance move of trust and dedication, it’s the introvert landing a wonderful leap into State Exams.

Yes, my dance is of me desperately trying to study for my written and skills CNA/NAC State Exams.

The dance is beautiful in its own way. I’m leaping in grand jete and turning this way and that desperately looking for my Sugarplum Prince named Confidence to lift me above my worrying mind. I leap here and there from books of sample test questions to random internet blogs and websites. I pirouette around and around looking for common ground in my labs; surely I remember all twenty-two skills! My whirlwind dance just keeps going on and on in an endless loop starting from the day I got my test date notice.

For those of you who are not yet at the State Exams part of your career or who will never have to take the State Exam let me explain. After taking the CNA/NAC course you are called a Nursing Assistant Registered. It means that you’re eligible for getting certified as a Nursing Assistant. The State Exam is what gives you the important certification to be a Nursing Assistant Certified or a NAC/CNA. The State Exam is composed of a Written Portion and a Skills Portion.

The Written portion is a 70 question test. The Skills Portion is where you, the State evaluator and a “patient” (another tester) are in a lab and you have to perform five skills in under twenty-five minutes. The five skills have to be done perfectly and you can’t miss a single skill or you’ll fail. (There are little points you can miss and still not fail, but do you really want to take that chance??) The five skills always consist of proper hand washing and one of the measuring skills (pulse, respiration, urinary output, blood pressure or weight) and the other three are completely random. It’s…stressful.

So my dance is centered on this GIANT test. I KNOW the material. I do! But then the whole “State Exam” worries and stress come creeping into my brain like the notes from a horror film. Dun dun dun duuuuunnnn. All of a sudden I’m making little mistakes that I shouldn’t be! For example, just the other day I went to a practice lab to study for the skills portion of the exam. I was doing great until I decided to time myself like the real State Exam would be like. All of a sudden I was forgetting to wipe the hands of the patient before and after feeding and wiping their mouth with the napkin after the meal. I forgot to say, “Privacy Maintained” when I was doing peri-care. And I completely forgot to say “Skill complete” after each skill. I just became so increasingly frustrated with myself. I recognize that frustration and worry does nothing and only makes things worse but I haven’t a clue how to not be worried. People tell me to “relax” but that just makes it worse…

The Dance of the Stressed out Introvert continues… My encore will be either a fall from the stage or a beautiful pirouette en pointe. But as the Japanese Proverb says, “We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.” Even if I fail, I can still take the test again… perhaps my stressful dance will end and I can actually start a dance of joy instead…

What do you do when you’re stressed? Do you have any advice?



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