By Cliff Foster
Give a class of students a rigorous test with a whole lot riding on it and chances are not everyone is going to pass.
But Metro State’s 2011 accelerated nursing students beat the odds. The College learned last week that all 36 graduates in the 2011 class passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. The 100 percent pass rate was a first for the program.
“Passing the exam demonstrates your competence so that you can launch your nursing career,” says the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.
The perfect score also gave the Nursing Department bragging rights. Of all baccalaureate and associate degree nursing programs in Colorado, Metro State’s is the only one to achieve a 100 percent pass rate in 2011, according to the Colorado State Board of Nursing website. Nationally and in Colorado, the average pass rate for the NCLEX-RN exam in the April to September reporting period was 88 percent.
The test includes questions all aspects of nursing: obstetrics, mental health, medical surgical nursing, leadership and management, community health and more, says Nursing Department Chair Barbara Nelson.
The national council toughened the test effective last April before the Metro State students took it. “Every so often the national board…revises it to ensure it is rigorous and that it’s going to test the competency of nurses coming out of school to make sure they practice good nursing,” Nelson says.
When the test gets tougher, nursing schools figure their pass rates will drop. “So, it’s sort of an extra acknowledgment of our graduates’ ability in terms of being able to pass the exam even in a year when the level of difficulty increased,” says Linda Stroup, associate chair of the Nursing Department.
The 17-month accelerated program, which leads to a bachelor’s degree in nursing, is for students who already have a non-nursing baccalaureate degree. They are admitted in January and complete the nursing curriculum in four consecutive semesters, including summer. They attend classes, complete laboratory experiences, fulfill clinical requirements and must be available for day, evening and night assignments seven days a week. The tuition is $35,000, but outside employment is strongly discouraged because, as Nelson says in a bit of understatement, “We keep them pretty busy.”
Metro State students as a whole consistently do well on the exam (the pass rate was below 86 percent once since 2005). “I think we have wonderful faculty here that care about student success and I think our students are really motivated to do a great job and the combination of the two really stand out,” Nelson says.
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