At 100 percent, AU’s School of Nursing pass rate in 2017 on the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, was the highest in the state of Indiana. Passing the NCLEX is essential for students graduating with a degree in nursing because it licenses them to practice as a registered nurse.
In order to take the NCLEX, aspiring nurses must first qualify by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or a BSN. The exam costs $200 to take and covers several “categories of client needs,” ranging from safe and effective care environments to health promotion and maintenance.
Dr. Lynn Schmidt, dean of the School of Nursing and Kinesiology, attributes AU’s high rate of success on the NCLEX to the expertise of the nursing faculty.
“What makes us unique is our nursing faculty and their teaching,” she said. “They’re also practicing clinically, so they have an idea of what’s going on with patients and healthcare in the hospital setting. It makes the things they’re teaching in the classroom really relevant to what’s going on in the clinical practice.
“Whether it be working in the emergency room, the intensive care unit or in a clinic, they’re still using their nursing skills in a clinical practice as well as in an academic setting. Having that relevance to their content makes the academic experience more meaningful for their students.”
Although AU achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the NCLEX in 2017, the national average pass rate was 87 percent.
Schmidt says it’s important for AU to maintain a pass rate above the national average because it has an effect on the university’s accreditation and the nursing department’s curriculum.
“For our national accreditation, we’re required to be above the national average,” she said. “If we’re below the national average three years in a row, then we’ll have to make adjustments to our curriculum and come up with some sort of remediation plan.”
Assistant Professor of Nursing Sarah Cox says that a crucial part of preparing students to pass the NCLEX is giving them an early start.
“We believe in working with students from the beginning of the nursing program to help them prepare for the NCLEX,” she said. “One of their first courses is titled ‘Strategies for NCLEX.’ Multiple study aids are incorporated into the curriculum as well as designing tests in each course that reflect NCLEX-style questions.”
Cox explains that, for students looking for a nursing program, pass rates can play a role in decision-making. A high pass rate makes a school look more attractive to prospective students because it is indicative of the caliber of the program.
“Our 100 percent pass rate is a great reflection on the nursing program and the university,” she said. “I believe that the high NCLEX pass rate makes AU look like a strong contender for incoming students.
“It speaks to the quality of students we have as well as the quality of the program and the university. We hope this will help to continue to grow the program and the university as others want to become part of such a great program,” she said.
Hannah Helton, a junior nursing major, is reassured by AU’s high pass rates on the NCLEX.
“I know that if everyone else can pass, then this program is preparing me to be able to do that as well,” she said.
Helton says that answering practice questions in class has contributed to preparing her to take the NCLEX next year.
“We use practice NCLEX questions on our exams,” she said. “Professors pull them from online test banks, which are certified NCLEX questions that have been released. Our professors try to help us understand the rationale behind any questions we get wrong.”
AU’s pass rate on the NCLEX in 2018 was 97 percent, compared to the national average to date of 89 percent.