🔵TCNJ nursing students have achieved a perfect pass rate on NCLEX exam

🔵The national average pass rate is 88.5%

🔵Both students and faculty are credited for the achievement

EWING — The College of New Jersey has something to be very proud of these days.

Their nursing students continue to pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s NCLEX exam at a rate that far surpasses other institutions of higher learning.

Of the 63 students in the latest graduating class, 54 have taken the NCLEX exam so far. They all achieved a perfect pass rate of 100%. The national average is 88.5% among first-time U.S.-educated candidates.

Students have until the end of December to take the exam.

This also marks the second time in the last five years that TCNJ nursing students have achieved a perfect pass rate, and the pass rate over the past five years has averaged 97%, said Tracy Perron, chair of the nursing department at TCNJ.

TCNJ Nursing student (TCNJ)
TCNJ Nursing student (TCNJ)

What is the NCLEX?

The NCLEX is the licensing exam students must take to become a registered nurse (RN). It is a very comprehensive exam. It demonstrates a person’s competency across all aspects of basic training, said Carole Kenner, dean of TCNJ’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The exam requires hard work and the application in the clinical area that crosses over into the exam itself, especially as the exam has changed over the past few years, Kenner said.

The clinical part of the exam is case-based where perspective nurses get to look at a patient and their family and all the complexities that go along with the health promotion, disease prevention, and support of a terminally ill person, Kenner explained.

TCNJ nursing students (TCNJ)
TCNJ nursing students (TCNJ)

What do you credit for this achievement?

Not only are the students very bright, but it’s the dedication of the teachers and the staff to make sure that the students achieve what they need to once they graduate because they can’t do a lot with a bachelor of science and nursing degree unless they have a license, Perron said.

“We all strive to make sure that the students can be successful when they sit for that exam,” Perron said.

Kenner said she is not only proud of the students, but she is proud of the faculty, too. She said the faculty did a lot of individualized support for the students.

“Not that our students are not strong to begin with, but giving that extra support with the faculty, and that kind of support has really paid dividends and they’re going to be excellent nurses,” Kenner said.

TCNJ nursing students (TCNJ)
TCNJ nursing students (TCNJ)

The Nursing Shortage

It’s not a secret that the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on frontline workers, including nurses. Perron said while the pandemic shed light on how hard nurses work and how dedicated they are to their profession, it also left a lot of nurses burned out. It got so bad that many nurses retired after the pandemic. But other nurses simply left the profession because it proved to be too much.

The better prepared that nursing programs at colleges and universities like TCNJ can make and help students become in their educational experience, and certainly with success at licensure exams, the more that we can provide a workforce that is well-prepared in times of shortages, Kenner said.

These graduates certainly add to the workforce but it’s going to take a long time to build up the nursing workforce to pre-pandemic levels, she added.

“The better prepared they are for what they’re going to experience in their day-to-day job as a registered nurse during their educational experience, the better, I think, they will find the atmosphere in their working environment, and be more apt to stay,” Kenner said.

Perron agreed. Despite the nursing shortage that was experienced across New Jersey, the country, and the globe, there is still a strong desire for many in the Garden State who want to become nurses.

“Our applications are at 1,200 a year and we don’t have that many spots to accept students. So, we still see there’s a lot of people who want to become nurses so it’s very competitive getting into the program, as well,” Perron said.

TCNJ nursing students in its simulation lab (TCNJ)
TCNJ nursing students in its simulation lab (TCNJ)

Advice for Aspiring Nurses

It takes a certain person to become a nurse, Perron said. You have to have a lot of perseverance. Nursing school is not easy. It’s a lot of work and requires a lot of studying. But it’s all worth it in the end.

Perron, herself, said when she was younger, she wanted to become a teacher. But her high school guidance counselor told her she would make a great nurse.

What she found out is that nurses are always teaching. They are teaching at the bedside, and teaching at the home during home care. Now, Perron has the best of both worlds. She continues to teach students the passion and the job that she’s loved for so many years.

Kenner agreed that it takes a lot of work to become a great nurse. That means it’s not always fun. It’s a lot of study and clinical hours. When you see some of your peers in other majors that have a lot of flexibility and downtime, it can be challenging. Kenner is not trying to be negative, she just wants prospective nurses to understand the dedication it takes to become a nurse.

“Look at it this way. A nurse can do so many things and work in so many areas, that if you don’t like what you’re doing right now or your clinical rotation, just think about that this is one piece of a whole myriad of other opportunities in nursing,” Kenner said.

TCNJ nursing students in the simulation lab (TCNJ)
TCNJ nursing students in the simulation lab (TCNJ)

Nursing at TCNJ

Strong and dedicated students only happen when there is a strong and dedicated faculty, Kenner said.

That is what you’ll get a TCNJ, Kenner said.

Some people are still practicing in the clinical area which brings real-world knowledge to the classroom. There is a great simulation center and TCNJ is certified and endorsed as a national center for that. There are certified simulation experts in the center. All of these make a difference when it comes to education. It’s the whole package, Kenner said.

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