WKU nursing students exceed national pass rate for NCLEX

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Olivia Eiler

WKU’s 2017 bachelor of science in nursing graduates achieved a 98 percent pass rate on their first attempt of the National Council Licensure Examination, according to a tweet by the College of Health and Human Services.

The purpose of the NCLEX-RN is to determine if a nursing graduate is capable of performing the duties required of an entry-level nurse, according to test preparation company Kaplan. The exam focuses on application, analysis and critical thinking.

The national pass rate for first time BSN graduates is 90.04 percent, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.


WKU BSN coordinator Sherry Lovan attributed the program’s success to the adaptive teaching styles of the program’s faculty members and the focus on student needs.

“The faculty are experts in the content presented in the program and use a variety of teaching strategies to meet the diverse learning needs of students,” Lovan said. “The faculty are excellent examples of lifelong learners, always eager to improve teaching methods.”

She said the faculty continually review curriculum and revise it to meet student needs.

“N324 Pathophysiology was moved to a prerequisite course rather than offered in the first semester of the program,” Lovan said. “This course is particularly difficult for students. Now students take this course before admission to the program which allows the ones who are unsuccessful to repeat it. This is especially important because once students are admitted to the program, they are only allowed to repeat a course one time.”

Lovan said several years ago, the program began to use standardized testing materials to prepare students for the NCLEX-RN.

“These products help students identify areas of weakness and remediate in this content to improve future performance,” Lovan said. “The [Health Education System, Inc.] Exit Exam, which is taken in the final semester of the program, is a highly accurate predictor of NCLEX-RN success.”

Outside of the classroom, Lovan praised the faculty’s dedication to student success.

“Although the BSN program has tripled in the number of students admitted since 2012, the faculty continue to offer and encourage one-on-one meetings to assist students who struggle to learn the content,” Lovan said. “The faculty are dedicated to helping each student reach their dream of becoming a registered nurse.”

Students in the program also learn from clinical experience and simulation labs.

Graduates of WKU’s accounting and engineering programs also take licensing exams: the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and the Praxis.

Although pass rates were not provided for either examination, department chairs for both programs say their faculty use similar teaching methods.

“The success of our program is due to the effort and dedication of each accounting faculty member,” said Harold Little, the accounting department chair. “The accounting department’s mission is ‘to provide quality accounting education and prepare students for successful and rewarding careers in accounting and business.’ We fulfill this mission through effective teaching; applied, pedagogical, and discipline-based research; and service to the college, the university, the profession and the business community.”

Little provided a specific example of the effectiveness of one of his colleagues in creating student interest.

“This morning, I was told that two students from Dr. Mark Ross’ principle of accounting course decided to change their major to accounting,” Little said. “I am sure their decision was based on the excellent teaching of Dr. Ross. The professors in the accounting sell the program because they are so very good at what they do.”

The director of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Stacy Wilson, said faculty in the engineering department bring professional experience to their classrooms.

“Professional licensure is extremely important to the faculty in the engineering programs,” Wilson said. “All of the faculty in our programs have a [Professional Engineer] license in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We see this as evidence of our commitment to engaging our students not only in learning the theory of engineering but the practice as well.”

News reporter Olivia Eiler can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow Olivia on Twitter at @oliviaeiler16.