The number of Amarillo College nursing students who have passed the national licensing exam to become registered nurses is less recently than it has been in the past.
Multiple factors have played a role in the unacceptable passing rates, administrators said.
“I think there are many reasons why,” said Dr. Richard Pullen, director and dean of the associate degree nursing program.
“One thing is that the national licensing exam is more challenging to pass. It has increased in difficulty, and testing standards have increased.”
Pullen also said admission into the program and completing the course have become more challenging.
Nursing major Rebecca Hollis said she thinks fewer students are passing because some feel entitled to a passing grade and don’t push themselves to learn all the information.
“I do, however, think that some professors could make sure that their students fully understand all of the information,” Hollis said.
Sonography major Cailynn White, who has studied alongside nursing majors, said she thinks the increase in off-campus learning may contribute to failing grades.
“Online exams and tests are on the rise, so it is easier for students to cheat their way through class,” White said.
Fewer students passing the exam means fewer students in the field.
“Demand for nurses is high,” said Erica Fugit, a recent licensed vocational nursing program graduate. “With less students graduating, it will decrease the way hospitals are run.”
White agreed with Fugit.
“With more students failing their exams, there will be a fall in staff at local hospitals,” she said.
“They’ll have more trouble trying to fill vacant spaces.”
Compared to the less than acceptable passing rates of the associate degree nursing program, the licensed vocational nursing program saw a 100 percent passing rate in May 2014, according to Pullen.
“The differences between the programs is that LVN is a one-year program, and the LVNs work under the supervision of registered nurses in hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices,” he said.
Pullen said ADN nurses go through a difficult two-year program. He said students receive their training from the “excellent work by the faculty.”
To combat the decrease in passing students, Pullen said the nursing department has enhanced teaching strategies and that students will receive more remediation in the classrooms and in clinicals.
“Patients are more sick and complicated, so we have to raise our standards in testing,” he said.
For many students, the changes also may mean an increase in difficulty of the material.
“The LVN program was tough when I was in it, and the standards were high,” Fugit said.
“I can’t imagine what the ADN program is like now.”