Taking the NCMHE exam was one of the most challenging experiences of my career path. It took me years to feel I was ready to take the exam, then endless hours of studying and research to prepare. Final the day came to sit for the exam. From the very start of the experience it all felt a bit stressful. I was asked to hang my jacket in another room and had to relinquish all my belongings to a bag on the back of my seat. The last step was having to photograph myself on the web cam that would be recording me throughout the exam.
I felt the outcome before I even saw the paper. My heart was pounding and I felt my body shaking like a leaf as I forced myself to take the paper from the monitor. I frantically scanned the paper for the result. I called out for help to decipher the result despite the FAIL in plain print. It was confirmed that I had indeed failed by 4 points. I was completely crushed. I felt like I had not only let myself down but as if I had let all those who had put their faith in me down as well. To be honest I also saw it as a sentence to at the least three more months working in a position that was beginning to feel increasingly overwhelming for me working in crisis until I could retake the exam. My husband, being the constant source of brilliant support gave me a hug, allowed me to cry it out and then encouraged me to sign right back up for another test. It was the last thing I would have even imagined at that moment but it was the push I needed.
When I went to book the test the only weekend date available was one of my dearest ones' 40th birthday. I believe in signs and I knew instantly that I was going to get through it. I ordered a study guide and took more practice tests. I spent every spare moment trying to prepare. On the day of the exam I felt some jitters but the previous experience helped me to feel more prepared. I took literally every last minute to examine the questions, I had 15 minutes left on my last scenario. When I exited the exam I felt that I had made it through. I pressed for the monitor and they came to get me. It felt like I was vibrating with anticipation waiting for the print out. When I saw that gorgeous PASS I literally felt my knees buckle. I cried some of the happiest tears of my life and felt an indescribable sense of relief.
What I learned more than anything from the experience is that the answers to the questions were only part of the story for me to be successful. I really feel that I had to be in a place where I felt unshakable and truly believed I was ready to take on this challenge and what passing would mean to my life and career. As with many times in my life I feel like it happened at the exact right time and I wouldn't change a thing.
Nicole Michaud is the Owner and Therapist at Senhouse Counseling LLC in Connecticut. She is also the voice behind the cooking Blog MyLoveForCooking.com.