Academic journal article ABNF Journal

A Collective Community Approach to Preparing Nursing Students for the NCLEX RN Examination

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

A Collective Community Approach to Preparing Nursing Students for the NCLEX RN Examination

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper examines the challenges that nursing faculty at one historically black college and university (HBCU) embark upon when preparing students for first time passage on the NCLEX RN examination. In response to these challenges, the nursing faculty advocate a collective community approach which focuses on nurse educators working together to share ideas and strategies to ensure NCLEX-RN success for nursing graduates and subsequently, their nursing programs.

Nurse educators know that they cannot avoid or risk the consequences of not preparing their nursing students for success on the NCLEX-RN exam. Like it or not, nurse educators must "deal with" the NCLEX-RN exam as well as their concerns for their students and the current labeling that indicates their nursing program's NCLEX "success." Success as defined in this context is a nursing program's first time writing and passage rate on the national examination for registered nurses. This standard for a successful nursing program is a special challenge for nursing schools that have not set a 100% passage rate as the benchmark for educating and integrating minority students into nursing practice. As faculty members at a historically black university (HBCU), we are committed to assisting our students with first time passage on this exam. This paper examines the challenges of this 100% benchmark and the strategies used at a historically black school of nursing to prepare our graduates for success on the national standardized nursing examination.

The undeniable pressures of reaching a 100% passage on the NCLEX-RN examination is a special challenge for schools of nursing that have historically had a commitment to working with a variety of students, including students having special needs for achieving success on standardized tests. As faculty members at an HBCU, we acknowledge and accept the challenge of educating a higher percentage of students with special needs in passing tests, most commonly referred to as "at risk students." Several of our students, including students having English as a second language, have special needs in preparing for the national standardized nursing examination and need the help of educators and nurses to achieve success on this examination. In response to their needs, our faculty invests in a collective community approach to assist our students in overcoming the challenges and obstacles of standardized testing in nursing.

Testing by national standards, in any form, is not friendly to many of our students who have spent most, or all, of their lives overcoming testing obstacles. National standardized testing is not a friendly game of competition, especially for those encountering numerous obstacles as their normal way of life. Likewise, it seems ironic that nursing, a profession of care givers, engages in practices that divide students into categories of winners and losers through standardized national testing for nurses. This idea of continuing to adhere to that practice seems contradictory in a country facing a nationwide shortage of nurses to care for the public. More preposterous is that, as a group of nurses, we are not more engaged in the struggle to assist our new graduate nurses into the practice arena. Should we, in effect, devise a means for all of our new graduates to enter into the healthcare arena to assist our overworked and understaffed practicing nurses?

Perhaps the most alarming consequence of this competitive battle is that success on the NCLEX-RN examination has become the core component and the primary focus for a nursing program. Nursing faculty, keenly aware of the importance of the NCLEX-RN examination, acknowledge its existence to beginning nursing students and in many conversations with other faculty members. Paradoxically, these same faculty state the schools of nursing from which they graduated focused on learning and training as a prerequisite to practice as a nurse, in contrast to testing their skills to pass the NCLEX- RN examination. …

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