JCJC AD Nursing program tops state in pass rate for licensing exam

Written By: Kelly Atwood
Email Address: kelly.atwood@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2015-05-04 17:45:45

    Jones County Junior College’s Associate Degree Nursing program had the top passing rate for the state licensing exam among all associate degree nursing programs in Mississippi for the year 2014.

   It’s 96 percent pass rate for the exam, which is called the NCLEX-RN, was also higher than the passing rate for almost every bachelor’s degree nursing program in the state, coming in second only to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which received a rate of 97 percent.

   In contrast, the state average for all associate degree programs in Mississippi is 81 percent; for bachelor degree programs, 89 percent; and for all schools combined, 83 percent. All results include fall 2013 and spring 2014 graduates who are first time test takers.

    “These test results tell us the caliber students that apply to our program and the hard work our students put in to be successful,” said Erin Knight, Chair of the program.

   Instructor Danielle Brownlee said, “It’s a true reflection of how well our faculty have prepared the students and how solid our curriculum is. It’s very nice to be compared to a major university.   

    “We set goals and standards for our students,” she continued. “We’ve not only met those standards, we’ve exceeded them. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve, and if we find weaknesses, we make a joint effort to improve them.”

    The instructors say that they credit the pass rate to three things: student commitment, faculty commitment and clinical partnerships. The program works with several clinical facilities throughout the JCJC district.

   “They do anything and everything to help us,” said Knight. “Without them, we could not have a program. We have people in our employment industry who’ll say they want to hire our graduates because they’re prepared and very good at what they do in their bedside nursing, and I know much of this can be contributed to their experiences in clinical.”

    The ADN program is competitive. This upcoming fall, 100 students have applied and approximately 50 will be accepted. There is a certain level of standards required for entry, and students are guided through the advising process to increase their competitiveness for the program. The instructors not only advise current ADN students, but also those who plan to receive a degree in nursing from any nursing program, which requires the instructors to be familiar with the pre-requisites for many schools and colleges.

    The NCLEX-RN is a computer-based, five-hour, 265-question exam that has several categories which tests knowledge and application of nursing concepts, with safety being a key component.

    “It’s a complex, comprehensive test students spend two years to learn how to take,” said instructor Lauren Bell. “We expose them to different areas of nursing while in the program, but our ultimate goal is to prepare a safe, efficient entry-level nurse.”

   JCJC’s ADN program’s tests reflect the subject matter that will be on the NCLEX-RN. The instructors conduct a regular comprehensive review of their curriculum to make sure they are providing their students concepts that are needed. They also use the ATI testing company to provide tests year-round in classes that will prepare them for the NCLEX-RN, plus two predictor tests their final semester to help them see their probability of passing the exam as well as identifying their areas of weakness.

   At the end of their five semesters in the program, students are required to take a three-day NCLEX review course. “It decreases their anxiety and helps them realize how much knowledge they’ve attained in two years,” said Bell.

    Once the NCLEX-RN is passed, a student becomes a licensed registered nurse, whether they have an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, because the exam is the same, said Knight. Also, once students have passed the exam, they don’t have to take it again if they choose to further their education. “Our students can get a job, enroll in an online bachelor’s degree program and obtain that degree while working,” said Knight.

   Nursing student Danielle Girod of Hattiesburg, who is set to graduate May 2016, has a master’s of science in criminal justice and forensics. She had her choice of colleges to attend for nursing and chose JCJC because, “Jones graduates are high on the list to choose for hospital employment. I wanted to come here because I heard it was a good program. The exam results make me feel like I made the right decision.”

   She said her favorite part of the program is clinical because she gets to interact with the patients. They also try to pair up what is being taught in class to what is happening in clinical so they can see it in practice.

   “JCJC has made excellent choices in teachers,” Girod said. “It’s a tough program, but you learn. It’s not memorization. You actually learn and apply it.”

   Student Zach Kover of Hattiesburg, who will graduate December 2015, was a medical technician for the military before enrolling in the JCJC nursing program.

    “I’ve had a lot of pride coming to JCJC, and knowing how we did on the NCLEX-RN gives me another reason to be proud of our college and program,” Kover said. “The main goal of students is to pass the NCLEX-RN, and this (news) is even more motivation and encouragement. It’s a very arduous program, but it’s paying off. I heard from other people that Jones sets the bar. I love my instructors. They’re always available both academically and personally. They care about us and are really good mentors.”

   Knight said the nursing program follows the required 10-1 instructor-student ratio in clinical, which allows the Jones instructors an opportunity to get to know their students and help them more. She also pointed out a time when a student had to drop out for a semester due to a personal crisis and all the students and instructors rallied around her to help in her time of need.

   “It’s like we’re a family,” Knight said.

    The JCJC ADN program currently has 128 students in the program with 23 set to graduate this May. A pinning ceremony is scheduled for May 14 at 10 a.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium preceded by a reception at 9 a.m. in Life Sciences. Graduation will be held May 15 at 10 a.m.


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