Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Grambling MSN Program Graduates Maintain 100% Licensing Exam Pass Rate

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Grambling MSN Program Graduates Maintain 100% Licensing Exam Pass Rate

Article excerpt

Since the first six students completed their master of science in nursing (MSN) degree at Grambling State University in 1999, every graduate of the nurse practitioner tracks has passed a national licensing exam. Because of its perfect pass rate on national exams for 14 straight years, an astounding achievement for any professional program, Grambling's graduate nursing program has gained a reputation for excellence in Louisiana.

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The school has been training nurses for about 25 years, opening its School of Nursing in 1987. A decade later, a graduate program was created to supplement the undergraduate program that produces registered nurses.

Grambling administrators attribute the program's success to high standards for admission and coursework, a stable faculty who challenge and nurture students, and a patient, supportive central administration.

"I would say not only because we uphold standards, but because we have very dedicated faculty who are standards-driven," says Dr. Rhonda D. Hensley, who has directed the MSN program since its inception. "They believe in evidence-based practice and are very student-friendly, very approachable. Our faculty is our biggest asset."

The six faculty members, including Hensley, continue to be practicing nurses. "We allow them a practice day weekly. That keeps us up-to-date on what's going on clinically and, I think, makes us sharper teachers," Hensley says.

Dr. Rama M. Tunuguntla, interim dean of Grambling's College of Professional Studies, says that because the nursing program is "pretty selective" in admissions "I give the grade to the faculty and the students."

To get into the MSN program, applicants must have a 3.0 GPA, score high on the GRE and have at least two years of experience as a registered nurse and good recommendations from other professionals. A written essay and personal interview are also required. Once admitted, the expectations remain high.

"You have to have an 85 percent overall in each course to pass, which is a little high, but we just feel that it's necessary to keep the standards high. We want the people who graduate from our program to be excellent," Hensley says. "It's worked so far."

As a part of the Grambling MSN program, students must log at least 700 hours working in a health clinic during the two academic years and a summer of full-time coursework.

So far, 75 percent of students have graduated on time, Hensley says. …

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