I finally took competency tests at my prospective per diem job at a large hospital. I am not pleased and I am not taking them again unless I am on the clock and getting paid. I cannot believe that a hospital operates this way. (Though I say that about my current place.)
I left message after message to schedule my appointment. Finally the woman who hired me called me back- when I was at work with the Head of Psychiatry and could not answer her call. She left a rambling message that a lot of time has passed and I have not come in to complete the three tests and, "Oh, I see here that I wrote that I needed to return your calls. I guess I didn't return them until now. Ok. So if you could call me back and schedule these tests, that would be great."
I poked around their phone system and finally got a clerk-like person, Stephanie. She asked when I wanted to come in. "This Friday, 8 a.m.," I told her.
She replied, "Ok. This Friday at 8 o'clock. And why are you coming in?"
"To take the required nurse competency tests before I start my employment," I answered, trying to keep cool. I had explained that at the beginning.
I drove through massive traffic to arrive at 7:45 on Friday. Nobody knew what I was talking about. Stephanie starts at 9 a.m., I was told At 9:30 a.m., Stephanie appeared, which I only know because I heard someone calling out to her- not because she sought me out in the waiting area.
Stephanie's response: "Yeah, um, I'm not sure why you wanted to come in today."
Me: "To take the pre-employment RN competency tests," I explained as coolly as I could.
Stephanie: "That is why it was not clear. We don't give those on Fridays, so I didn't know why you wanted to come in on a Friday to take the test when we don't give the test on Fridays."
There goes half my day off for nothing.
"Can I come in next Wednesday?" I asked.
"Sure," said Stephanie.
I sought confirmation, "You administer the tests on Wednesdays?"
"Yes," Stephanie said, looking bewildered.
On Wednesday, I appeared and had a similar run-around. Nobody knew what I was talking about. Finally Stephanie appeared and shuttled me to a computer. She got the program up and running and left me unattended in the room. I answered multiple-choice questions about medications I had never heard of and some that fell out of use years ago. 80% is passing. I scored 76%
I returned to the desk and told the new face that I was ready for the next test. She didn't understand. I asked for Stephanie. She said that Stephanie had left for the day.
I left too. I figured I'd try again. They probably wouldn't remember that I already took the test and failed. I showed up and met a different batch of confused people. After much hesitation and several phone calls, they brought me to a computer and started up the same test I already failed.
I had learned from my prior attempt. Smart phone by my side, I looked up the unfamiliar medications and reference ranges for blood values. I realized how I answered many of the questions incorrectly the first time around, and was feeling very confident about passing this time. My score: 78% It could not be possible.
I would like to mention that the location of my testing was the front office of a very busy building. Visitors did not understand that I did not work there. They kept barging in on me, asking for stuff. One woman even yelled at me that I was just sitting there, "Playing a game on the computer," while she needed help.
I returned to the desk and asked to start the next test. This new face asked me which one. I said it would be a psych test. She typed and clicked the mouse and read and read. Finally she declared, "There is no psych test."
"Psychiatric," I clarified.
Again more typing and clicking. "No, I don't see that test, either," she answered. She asked if I wanted to take any other test.
"Yes, the two tests that I need in order to work here," I answered.
"Did they say where you would be working?" she asked.
"Behavioral Health," I replied.
"Let me see if they have a test for that," she answered, and typed and clicked some more. "No," she declared. "Maybe you have to take a medication test?"
"I already took one," I answered.
"Here is one called Mental Medications," she said. "Maybe that is the one you need?"
"Yes," I responded. How does she not know that behavioral health, psych, and mental are all interchangeable?
Let's not get too excited. She pulled up the next test and I sat down to see Maternal-Newborn. "Wait," I said. "This is not Mental. It is Maternal."
"Same thing," she responded.
"No, it is not. I need the mental health tests."
"I'm pretty sure you need this one," she answered. She went from not knowing anything to knowing which test I needed in just a few minutes. Now I was getting mad.
I whizzed through the test, knowing very little. Click, click, click. I did not bother to consult my phone. A man came through (remember how open this is) and introduced himself as the union rep. He saw the test and welcomed me to Labor and Delivery. I said I was hired for the psych department. He asked why I was taking the maternal-newborn test. "I don't know," I answered. He said that no new hire has passed any of these tests so far.
That made me feel better. I decided that I would take three tests, as instructed, and hope that they are so disorganized that I can start working in spite of my scores. My score on the maternal test, which were mostly guesses: 74% Just a hair worse than the medication test, where I looked-up the answers.
The next new face at the desk hesitated quite a bit, then called up another test for me on alcohol and drug withdrawal. Again, not an area I am familiar with. Clicked my guesses as quickly as possible. My score: 78% How could I achieve the same score with almost random clicking as I did with researched answers?
When done, I appeared at the desk to announce my completion and my expectation that I would be orienting soon. The woman asked, "Why are you taking these tests?"
I answered, "They are required in order to work here as a nurse," I answered.
She replied, "That is so cute! You want to be an RN! I think you also have to go to school, though."
I looked at her and then just walked away.
I am still going to write about the disorganization of my current hospital, but this place might be far worse. Wow.