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Home » Uncategorized » High pass rates for nursing exams in the Finger Lakes: What could this mean for the state of local healthcare?

High pass rates for nursing exams in the Finger Lakes: What could this mean for the state of local healthcare?

  • / Updated:
  • Rebecca Swift 

Dozens of Finger Lakes Community College Grads are celebrating a big accomplishment and milestone. 

The Finger Lakes Community College nursing class of 2022 had a pass rate of 93 percent on the NCLEX-RN, which stands for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. According to FLCC, that score exceeded the average 63 percent pass rate for New York state associate degree holders and average 69 percent rate for that group nationally.

“Our program is an RN program,” said Professor of Nursing and Nursing Department Chairperson Heather Reece-Tillack. “So we prepare students to pass the NCLEX, which is a National Licensing Exam. 93% of our students who graduated and took the NCLEX passed. Essentially, that means that they’re really well prepared by the program and the faculty to pass the licensing exam. It’s a lot of hard work so it’s very rewarding to have a 93% pass rate.”

So what does it take to become an RN?

“To be a nurse, you have to be willing to work hard and be smart,’ Reece-Tillack added. “It takes a lot of intelligence to be able to do the course work. It’s not just learning something to be able to repeat it back to somebody. You have to learn the content and then you have to be able to apply that content in several different situation. And that’s what really, I think, makes it hard for students.” 

How does FLCC’s program prep for success?

But there are reasons FLCC continues to have success with nurse grad rates.  Reece-Tillack said the College made some curriculum changes. Instead of basing grades off tests alone, they’ve had students do different kinds of assignments, where they’re applying what they’re learning prior to the tests.

“When COVID-19 hit, everything went completely online,” she explained. “But now that we’re through the worst of that, we still do some of our classes online. But then we have students come in. When they come in, it’s not just  a lecture class. We have activities where they’re actually applying what they’ve learned. So it’s a much more interactive class.”

So they might present to students what’s called an unfolding case study.

“Students might be given a situation with patients,” she explained. “They run through that. And the instructor might say what is the really important information that we’ve given you so far? What are the cues you need to identify to take care of this patient? They may give them some more information. Like, well this has now happened with the patient or this is what the provider has ordered. Then the student has to then also incorporate that additional information and identify what’s important, then we move to the next step. What is your plan, what are your nursing actions, how are you going to care for this. patient so the outcome is better so the patient actually improves their health?”

How is this significant considering staffing shortages in healthcare?

“We’ve always had good pass rates,” Reece-Tillack added. “So it’s maintaining those, but it’s also knowing that we’re preparing nurses to go into the workforce as a beginning practitioner to be able to care for patients safely. Last year I think our pass rate was 87%. And I think like every school you know, people were concerned because of COVID, what were the outcomes going to look like. We came out the other side of that doing well.”

In school, they also discuss current events, and the fact that there has been a nursing shortage for a long time.

“More so, COVID brought it to the forefront and to the media,” she said. “Nobody really knew before what a nursing shortage meant. With COVID, the media brought out what that really means. Every year, we’re making changes and reviewing our curriculum. We did start to roll out a new curriculum last Fall that is a concept-based curriculum. And we just opened a brand new, state-of-the-art nursing lab. And in January, was the first time we accepted a new class into the nursing program. Typically, we only admitted students in September. But starting this January we’re admitting students in September and in January.”