100 percent of nursing students pass NCLEX

Nursing class of 2018 becomes first at university to obtain a 100 percent pass rate on National Council Licensure Exam

Jacob Waring — Online Editor

The 2018 graduating nursing class, obtained a first-time pass rate of 100 percent on the National Council Licensure Examination.

According to Cheryl Resha, chairperson of the nursing department, the NCLEX determines if it is safe for a student to begin practice as an entry level nurse. Resha said that historically that Southern has had a “very acceptable” pass rate.

“We have to be above 80 percent to stay accredited with the state board of nurses, but we have typically enjoyed a pretty good pass rate of in the 90s,” Resha said. “To have all of our students pass on the first time at with 100 percent is just something to be so proud of — both from our students’ work and our faculty’s work in preparing them.”

The Connecticut State Department of Public Health records NCLEX pass rates going back as far as 2010. The lowest pass rate the nursing baccalaureate program has ever received was 82 percent in 2014. The university has typically scored in the 80-percentile range for pass rates according to the data.

From 2013 to 2017, the baccalaureate program has had a pass rate between 82 to 85 percent. From 2010 to 2012, the pass rate was 91 to 93 percent. In 2018 it was 95 percent and the recent graduating class was the sole group to all score a 100 percent.

In comparison, the accelerated program, in the same time span, had achieved a passing rate between 93 and 100 percent pass rate, achieving 100 percent in 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Nursing students enrolled within an accelerated program are admitted with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees and proceed to complete an intensive program in nursing.

Resha said students take an adaptive exam that has a bank of up to 225 questions. An adaptive exam, Resha said, gradually ramps up in difficultly depending on if students get questions right or wrong.

“Some students will have the full 225 questions,” she said. “Some students will only have 75 questions because [on] each question they were able to answer the more difficult one.”

Regina Kulacz, an nursing professor, teaches NUR 342 “Evidence Based Nursing Interventions,” which is a class based on theory and lab practice in performing therapeutic nursing interventions.

Kulacz said almost everything nursing students learn in their courses can be potentially be on the test.

“Generally, [students] might see some questions about a procedure such as a Foley catheter placement or a central line dressing change,” she said. “It’ll be discussed in terms of, like, a patient scenario, and they
might have to answer a question about it.”

Kulacz became a full-time faculty member this August but was previously enrolled as a graduate student and completed her master’s in nursing education in December of 2018. She said she already has ideas in mind to prep students for the exam.

“A lot of it is, kind of, encouraging them to develop critical thinking skills,” she said. “It’s all about how to apply it to a patient’s scenario. I also teach a lecture course

She said there is pressure in instructing students to ensure the success of the 2018 graduating class is replicated in the future, but it also has its positives.

“I think it could be a lot of pressure depending on how you look at it, but it’s also nice to have that standard ahead of us to look to so we know to continue what we’re doing and to keep improving,” said Kulacz.

Nursing major Jhada Eddy, a junior, said rather than feeling pressure, she instead feels comfort in replicating the success of the 2018 class.

“It just makes me think that, you know, if they can do it,we can do it,” said Eddy. “If they did the same thing that we went through, then there’s a high chance that we’re going to pass as well.”

Jackson said she most dreads the inability to backtrack on the test the most.

“It’s like one of those things where like as soon as you click, like, next, like, that’s it. You just keep going,” Jackson said. “So, I’m the type that likes to like double check everything and triple check everything, which is good, but, like, for the exam, it kind of makes me a little bit more anxious.”

Despite some apprehensions, both Eddy and Jackson still said they have hope in replicating the success of the 2018 class. President of the National Student Nurses’ Association Chelsea DellaRocca said it makes going through Southern’s nursing program an easier task.

“It makes me really hopeful that, going through this program, I’ll be able to do the same thing, and that the way that they went through school, that, since we’re going through the same thing, that we’ll be prepared in a similar way.”

A 100 percent pass rate would potentially be appealing to future faculty, and the pass rate could afford students with better jobs and employment opportunities, according to Resha.

She also said that Southern is one of Yale’s biggest suppliers for nurses. Part of the reason, she said, is because of the university has been doing consistently well with the NCLEX. She credits the curriculum implemented at the university for the success on the exam.

“[The success is due to] the rigor of our courses. We also have implemented what they call practice exams throughout the curriculum,” Resha said.

President Joe Bertolino said he thought it was a spectacular achievement that the previous year’s group
of nursing students were able to achieve a 100 percent on their first attempt with the licensing exam.

“I think, any anytime one gets that achievement, I think, is spectacular,” said Bertolino, “but for it to happen as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the program, I think, just makes it extra special.”

Photo credit: Jacob Waring

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