RU nursing students ace national licensing exam


Leeann Scarberry


The Radford University School of Nursing students have surpassed the national score on the National Council Licensure Examination for the third year in a row with a 96.5 percent pass rate, compared to the 84.9 national score.

The NCLEX is the examination for licensing nurses that is administrated by the Council of State Boards of Nursing.

In 2014, 85 students took the NCLEX and 82 of them passed, earning their nursing licenses. Radford only trailed behind four other Virginia nursing programs. The Roanoke School of Nursing only beat Radford with a 96.6 percent passing rate compared to Radford’s 96.5.

“All the faculty are very invested in each course,” said Kathleen Cox, the associate director of the School of Nursing. “The students have a lot of practice for the exam.”

The process leading to taking the exams involved a lot of practice and hard work. The students had to receive either a Bachelors or Associates Degree in nursing prior to taking the examination.

After filling out the forms with the state board and making an appointment to take the exam, students have to pay a fee that ranges in amount, depending on the state.  The test takes five hours to take and can range from 75 questions to 250.

The computer will sometimes shut off at 75 questions which could mean two things: that they already passed with only 75 questions or there is no way they could pass. The NCLEX can by re-taken, with every state having a different policy regarding re-takes.

“Some states will allow three times, and if they don’t pass they have a remedial course while other states could take it an unlimited amount of times,” Cox said.

The key component of the success rate of the School of Nursing students is the Kaplan Learning Integrated Center program. The program was created by Trish Conklin, an assistant professor and Leonita Cutright, an instructor.

“Kaplan has such a rich program for their NCLEX prep but we found that we needed to really walk them through how to use the resources.” Cutright said.

KLIC uses Kaplan products to prepare the students as well as the State Board products. The program is set up on D2L for the students to know where they are and what they have to work out to pass the examination. The students are given practice tests to show what they need to study and given opportunities for one-on-one help.

“We put everything they need to access on D2L so they don’t have to go in and out. Once they are in, everything is right there,” Conklin said.

The most important thing about the program is that it not only helps students pass the NCLEX for certification but also to help them learn the skills needed to become a nurse. This is important to helping each individual student learn what to work on.

The program has gained attention in the form of other schools trying to model their programs after Radford’s, in the hope to replicate its success. While some schools have chosen certain parts of the program to integrate into their program, Conklin and Cutright are in the process of having conversations with the University of Alaska about implementing this program there.