In previous years, University of Saskatchewan nursing students took the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination. However, starting in January 2015 the test was replaced by the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which features a brand new approach as the test becomes personalized for each person who takes it.
The NCLEX is taken on a computer at an off-campus test centre and consists of several topics. It initially tests to see where the candidate is weakest and then adjusts to those weak points in order to ensure that students have the complete knowledge required for being a registered nurse. This goes on for 75 questions, at which time the exam either gives a passing or failing grade. If the candidate is somewhere in the middle of passing and failing, the exam will continue to ask questions until the candidate achieves a passing or failing grade or until the time limit of six hours is reached.
At the time of print, only 66 of the 244 eligible students from the U of S had written this exam. Of those 66, an impressive 79 per cent have passed compared to a provincial pass rate of 60.5 per cent.
Nursing student Eduardo Fernandez, who has recently taken and passed the NCLEX, gave some insight as to why he believes he and his classmates were so well prepared for the exam.
“We knew everything they were teaching us but we also kind of all developed an attitude where we would help out with teaching on our own, sort of research on our own for studying,” Fernandez said. “There were some really fantastic classes that kind of pinpointed exactly what the NCLEX was about, like all our medical surgery classes, our simulation classes.”
Lorna Butler, dean of the College of Nursing, noted how the students’ recent achievements have translated to the college.
“It only further compliments the success in our curriculum review and also in our accreditation. So we know that the knowledge that the students are receiving when they graduate is the knowledge that is required to ensure that they are confident in the nursing practice,” Butler said.
Butler also went on to mention that while the College of Nursing did supply the students with the materials necessary for preparing for the new exam, there are some things that do not require updating.
“What we would not do at the University of Saskatchewan is we would not change our curriculum to fit an examination. The curriculum is sound and it’s been approved and accredited.”
While the results available from the students at the U of S at this time are not complete, Butler notes that they are doing incredibly well. However, time will tell as to how the remaining students fare.
Butler provides advice for those students who have yet to take the test.
“Be confident in the knowledge that you have from your program. So don’t go in thinking that you don’t know — be confident in what you know. You’ve passed your degree, so you have that foundational knowledge. Think through, use your critical thinking skills that you’ve been taught and work through the questions. But do not go into the room unprepared. Study and practice those questions.”
Fernandez agrees with Butler and speaks to his own experience with the test, reassuring students to believe in what they have learned and to not succumb to their potential anxieties.
“Just focus on the basics, then once you have the basics down pat, then you can sort of branch off to just sort of trivia knowledge. I think not psyching yourself out, and you need to give the test the respect it deserves, and with both of those in mind, you’re very likely to pass.”