RU School of Nursing again posts impressive licensing exam pass rate results

School of Nursing Pin

Graduates of the Radford University School of Nursing have again burnished the school's prestigious reputation.

For 2014, RU SON graduates significantly surpassed the national average on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the examination for the licensing of nurses that is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. RU graduates posted a near-perfect pass rate of 96.5 percent on the NCLEX and exceeded the 84.93 percent national average for Bachelor of Science–Nursing (BSN) programs.

Of the 85 candidates for nursing licensure who took the NCLEX and earned the pin emblematic of a RU BSN in 2014, 82 passed the NCLEX. Among its peers in Virginia, RU trailed only four of 33 Virginia BSN programs in pass rate for 2014. Nationally, RU has exceeded the NCLEX pass rate average for three consecutive years.

"Results like this demonstrate the hard work and dedication of both faculty and students to excellence at both our Radford and Roanoke campuses. I am very proud of their successful contributions to the next generation of outstanding nurses and health care providers," said Director of the School of Nursing Tony Ramsey.

Internally, the SON Roanoke campus barely edged the Radford campus, earning a 96.6 percent passing rate to a 96.4 percent passing rate. However, 54 Radford campus graduates earned nursing licensure in 2014 compared to 28 from the Roanoke campus.

A key component of the SON effort to ensure successful preparation of its graduates is a program developed by Assistant Professor Trish Conklin and Instructor Leonita Cutright. The program, Kaplan Learning Integrated Center, and its creators have attracted the attention of Kaplan Nursing, the maker of the test preparation materials used by the program, and other schools eager to replicate RU's success.

Conklin and Cutright presented the program, begun in 2013, in a special pre-conference session, sponsored by Kaplan Nursing, before the September meeting of the National League of Nursing in Phoenix.

"The program is a paradigm shift from how we were preparing our students for the exam, the most important challenge of their young careers," said Conklin.

Added Cutright: "Bottom line, we want them to be safe practitioners. By empowering them to take the test, we help them think critically and analyze questions. It is critical thinking, not just content that all nurses must actualize. Successful passage of the NCLEX measures their abilities in these areas, so they feel ready to begin their professional practice."

The program is a process that begins as student nurses enter the fourth level in the second semester of their senior year. Cutright and Conklin screen the candidates for graduation and "write a prescription" for those who might be out of sequence or struggle on an assessment test.

The program also includes a forum for the entire prospective graduating class at which the soon-to-be graduates are briefed on the NCLEX and licensure processes and timelines. Individualized semester-long success prescriptions include individual meetings, review sessions and tests focused on honing the critical thinking process that is central to nursing.

As eligibility to sit for the NCLEX is contingent upon successful graduation from an accredited BSN program, graduates take the exam after they have left the SON. While the daily face-to-face interaction with students may stop after graduation, RU's NCLEX prep program sustains engagement past graduation until the all-important licensure is achieved.

"We stay involved with our graduates and there is continual monitoring, coaching and feedback," Conklin said. "Their licensure and successful practice after graduation is as much a goal as their graduation."

Cutright calls this ongoing engagement a reflection of the nature of nursing which demands ongoing learning, education and certification.

"The career of caring for patients is a constant test and it takes constant preparation to be successful," Conklin said.

Mar 18, 2015