Feb. 6, 2017
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Test Preparation Reflects WTAMU’s Continued Success in NCLEX Rates
CANYON, Texas—Sydney Blasingame will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from West Texas A&M University, but she has one more hurdle after that—the NCLEX licensing exam. Blasingame, like most nursing graduates, is nervous about the upcoming test but knows she will be more than ready, thanks to the preparation she is receiving at WTAMU.
Her confidence in that preparation is well founded. For the past six years, WTAMU has earned commendation from the Texas Board of Nursing for successful pass rates of its first-time test takers. Since 2011, the University’s pass rate has never fallen below 95 percent, and this year’s pass rate is one of its highest to date at 97.96 percent, well above the national average of 85.6 percent.
WTAMU’s six-year rate (2011-2016) puts the nursing program at No. 2 in the state with an average of 96.71, right behind Texas A&M University Health Science Center School of Nursing at 98.54. The University’s six-year average tops such schools as University of Texas Health Sciences Center—Houston, Baylor University, University of Texas at Austin, Texas Women’s University and University of Houston School of Nursing.
WTAMU’s nursing faculty credits the high pass rates on a rigorous testing schedule that prepares nursing students for the NCLEX exam. Beginning with their junior year, WTAMU nursing students are required to take standardized tests called Hesi exams that encompass the wide variety of content covered throughout each semester. The Hesi exams lead up to an exit exam at the end of the senior year that all nursing students must pass to graduate.
“We start taking Hesi exams in Junior 1 and end with the exit exam,” Blasingame said. “They stress everyone out, but they prepare us really well for the NCLEX. We’ve been told that if you pass the exit, it’s very telling of who passes the NCLEX.”
Graduate student Kelsey Gesling agrees with Blasingame. Gesling took the NCLEX after graduating with her B.S.N. in 2013.
“I was very nervous,” she said. “There is so much weight to taking the NCLEX, but I felt very prepared for it. The testing as a student really helped me.”
Dr. Helen Reyes, head of the Department of Nursing at WTAMU, said it’s the department’s goal to graduate safe, competent nurses, and the timed tests help them do that.
“The NCLEX is a high stakes test, and we do our best to do high stakes testing in our program,” she said. “We’re really proud of our students and faculty, and the success we’ve seen over the past few years.”
Vicki Hartin, nursing instructor, said the department started using the specialty exams in 2012, and they have seen great results in the pass rates since then.
“These are good tests that set a high bar,” Hartin said. “It’s important to be prepared, and the test material is relevant. It’s good training and more than prepares our students for taking the NCLEX.”
The WTAMU Department of Nursing has been educating students to become registered nurses and nurse practitioners since 1974, and today more than 400 nurses in the Texas Panhandle are graduates of the University’s nursing program.