Local nursing programs adapt to new education standards - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Local nursing programs adapt to new education standards

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Amarillo, TX - Prospective nurses are now facing more rigorous testing to be certified to practice. This has local nursing programs adapting so their students can succeed.

The Board of Nursing recently changed standards for the national test all prospective nurses must take. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLX) is now more difficult and a higher percentage of students from each nursing program are required to pass.

Now 80 percent of nursing students who take the NCLX must pass from each program. In 2013, Amarillo College dipped just below the new passing rate requirement with about 79 percent of students passing. However, their rates have slowly been declining for the past four years. The interim program director for AC said the community's demand for nurses required the college to increase enrollment. But keeping an adequate ratio of students to teachers has been a challenge.

The college is working to improve the ratio next fall and the teaching methods they use. "We have developed some very innovative teaching and testing strategies using high fidelity mannequins and other technology sources to improve the teaching and learning process, and we're going to emerge bigger and better than ever," said Interim Program Director Richard Punnel.

Down the road, West Texas A&M's nursing program has seen the opposite passing rate trend. Last year, about 94 percent of their students passed the exam. "We've raised some of the admission standards, some of the exam standards in order to get in, to get through and to get out of the program. And we've made some curricular changes as well," explained College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Dirk Nelson. "Collectively, I think those have been responsible for some of the positive changes that have taken place at WT."

Pullen said the new testing standards are good for all nursing programs. "It's requiring nursing programs to increase the rigor of their programs, and rigor means making sure that everything is consistently applied in the teaching and learning process and making sure that the program is reasonably challenging. Because the ultimate goal is to produce safe graduates for the community."

Because of the testing changes, about 40 percent of nursing programs throughout Texas are dealing with the same passing rate issue as Amarillo College.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10