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100 Percent of Northern’s Spring 2023 ADN Class Pass Nursing Licensure Exam

Northern New Mexico College grads are serving their community in healthcare positions

ESPAÑOLA, N.M. — Northern New Mexico College’s Department of Nursing & Health Sciences has something to crow about. Every one of this year’s graduates from the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam on their first try. Several of the 11 graduates have already been offered jobs in the local healthcare industry, including three employed by Presbyterian Española Hospital.

“We’ve never had 100 percent pass rate, ever in this program. so that’s a big deal for us, a real big deal,” said Interim ADN Program Director Theresa Lopez. “The students have put in their due diligence. They have been committed to do what it takes to be successful, so I give them credit.”

Lopez also attributes the achievement to the dedication of the faculty, new resources coming into the department and changes in the format of the test.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing revised the exam in an effort to provide a more accurate measurement of the candidate’s ability to make clinical decisions. This is the first time that students sat for the new exam, which now includes three case studies with information on a patient’s disease process, lab work, records and vital signs that candidates must evaluate to respond to questions.

Other changes include questions asking the student to prioritize, for example, which of three patients would they see first? The new exam also gives credit for correct answers on “select all that apply” questions. Previously candidates received no credit unless all correct answers were checked, which Lopez noted was not a realistic reflection of clinical practice.

“In a clinical setting, if you were concerned about the side effect of a medication, you would go to a reference and look up your side effects,” Lopez said. “There are so many resources out there that we try to teach our students to use, not to rely just on memory, because we know how our memory can fail us.”

Those who took the test have told Lopez that they felt it was a fair exam and that they were well prepared. Nursing faculty model their own testing after the board exam so students will feel familiar with the format. They also take other steps to ensure student success.

“I have to give credit to our faculty. We have experts in their field who are incredibly dedicated. I can’t say enough about them, the work that they put into helping these students succeed,” Lopez said. “They go over and above with tutoring and after-class hours and meeting with them on weekends. The faculty is phenomenal.”

The department has tried a variety of modalities to increase success, from classes on how to decrease test anxiety to instruction on how to look at the questions on the board exam. “I think as a program we’ve done a lot of work to improve our product and what we deliver to our students,” Lopez said.

The department has also received grant resources that have enhanced the program, including $680,000 from the New Mexico Higher Ed Department dedicated to retaining and graduating diverse nursing students, including maintaining success rates on the RN licensure exam. NNMC is also a partner institution for a grant awarded to the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce.

“It’s always a team effort. Success is always a multifaceted outcome. Many different areas feed into a successful program,” Lopez said. “This makes us all incredibly proud.”

The ADN program is seeing other successes as well. Fall 2023 enrollment is at 28 students, back to pre-pandemic numbers. Lopez is also excited about four Presbyterian Española Hospital nurses joining the faculty this year to teach clinical courses.

“That is a big deal, because they’re clinical experts,” Lopez said. “We teach the theory portion. Some of us work parttime at the hospital, but it’s the people that are really in there everyday who can bring the clinical expertise. We’re thrilled.”

Find more information about the Northern New Mexico College ADN program, go to https://nnmc.edu/home/academics/schools-and-departments/nursing-health/associate-degree-in-nursing-program/.

Northern offers over 50 bachelor's, associate and certificate programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math); Nursing and Health Sciences; Liberal Arts and Humanities; Arts, Film & Media; Business Administration; Teacher Education and Technical Trades.
Northern New Mexico College is the most affordable 4-year college in the Southwestern US. Choose us for our value, our quality degree and continuing education programs in diverse areas of study, and our experienced faculty. We provide students with unique opportunities for academic, personal, and professional growth, small class sizes, personalized attention, and strong hands-on experiences from day one.
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