School's NCLEX pass rates reach new heights

Newest results show UAB School of Nursing is most successful prelicensure program of its size in Alabama
By Jimmy Creed

Students April2015 197Students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing have long been among the nation’s best at passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) on their first try, but in 2015 the School’s bar of success in that category was pushed higher than ever before.

For the period from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015, an impressive 95.7 percent of the 231 graduates of the School passed the NCLEX their first time, making UAB’s the most successful nursing program of its size in the state of Alabama over that period. The stellar first-time pass rate of its bachelor’s of science in nursing and Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway (AMNP) program graduates placed the School well above the state average of 84.6 percent and the national average of 84.2 percent.

It also means the School has now met a strategic priority first laid out in 2013 to increase the NCLEX pass rate to greater than 95 percent.

“It is wonderful, but it is more than just a number,” said Interim Assistant Dean for Undergraduate and Pre-Licensure Programs Lynn Nichols, PhD, RN, BC, SANE. “It reflects an incredible amount of planning and dedication by the faculty, who in turn inspired the students who worked hard and gave us these results. It was a team effort and every member of the team should be congratulated for it.”

Students April2015 098Prior to the mandate in 2013, faculty members spent considerable time analyzing the School’s curriculum to determine what worked and what needed to improve to increase student success on things like board certification exams. The changes they came up with were implemented with the cohort that gathered in the fall of 2013 and the first students to complete their course of study under the new curriculum were those who graduated in April 2015.

Of the 101 students who graduated in that cohort, 98 percent passed the NCLEX on their first try.

The major shift was from a topical-based curriculum to a more concept-based curriculum said Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Moneyham, PhD, RN, FAAN.

“Previously we had implemented a number of strategies such as a remediation program to help better prepare students who were struggling and tutors to help students in classes that were difficult,” Moneyham said. “But until we changed the curriculum we weren’t able to appreciably improve the NCLEX pass rates so that we could finally exceed our goal. The curriculum change seems to be the major factor that has finally got us to our goal.”

Rhonda McLain, who was assistant dean for undergraduate and pre-licensure programs during the time the evaluation and transformation in curriculum took place, points to four specific areas she believes most contributed to the NCLEX improvement.

“We increased the amount of experiences that students get in interprofessional education and learning how to work as a team with other disciplines, including medical students,” McLain said.

“We put an increased emphasis on leadership development in our new program. We added courses to better prepare them for doing psychomotor skills. And I think an increased use of simulation in the program better prepares the students as well.”

She was thrilled to see the School reach this highly anticipated milestone.

“It reflects highly on our program, and it’s an important indicator of the unique opportunities we have to offer here that other schools don’t,” McLain said.

Now that one goal has been reached another lies ahead, Nichols said, that of achieving and maintaining a 100-percent NCLEX pass rate.

Students April2015 233“This is no small feat when you admit high numbers like we do, and we want to celebrate it, but we’re not going to stop with this,” Nichols said. “We want to shoot for and continuously achieve a 100-percent pass rate.

“We have paved the pathway for our students to succeed and our students have picked that up and worked hard. We got here by teamwork, and we’ll need to maintain that teamwork to push forward and do even better in the future.”

Last modified on November 01, 2016

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