Last week, Keene State College President Anne Huot sent out an e-mail which stated the nursing program’s probation has been extended.
“It is my pleasure to update you on the most recent review of the College’s nursing program. Last Friday, … we received notification that the college’s program has received a six-month extension of our ‘approved on probation’ status. This good news allows the college to more fully demonstrate the positive outcomes of our revised curriculum and to prepare our students to take the NCLEX-RN exam,” the e-mail, sent on Tuesday, Feb. 21, read.
KSC’s nursing program has been on probation since February, 2016, according to an editorial in The Keene Sentinel. The reason for the probation was because of the low passing rates of the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or the NCLEX-RN.
In 2013, only one year after the program began, according to KSC’s nursing section on the school’s website, 77.78 percent of graduates passed the exam.
However, in the following three years, the passing percentage dropped to 48.28 percent, 62.16 percent and 62.50 percent respectively.
Plymouth State University began their nursing program in the fall of 2011, according to an article on their school’s website. Their passing rates from 2013-2016 were 72.41 percent, 65.52 percent, 56.52 percent and 95 percent, respectively.
However, they, too, hold an “approved on probation status,” according to the nursing department section of their website.
Being on probation
After e-mailing directly with Dr. Clementine Hinsperger-Rice, the director of nursing at KSC, The Equinox was contacted by Kelly Ricaurte, the director of strategic communications and community relations, and said that an interview could be set up with the Dean of Professional and Graduate Studies, Dr. Karrie Kalich, through her assistant.
Unable to find a time to interview due to scheduling conflicts, The Equinox reached out to Ricaurte, asking for an interview with Rice. Ricaurte was present for the duration of the interview.
“We’re approved, on probation, from the board of nursing in New Hampshire. We’re accredited nationally from CCNE [The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education],” Rice said.
While on probation, the nursing program is required to send reports to the New Hampshire Board of Nursing, or the NH BON.
When contacted by The Equinox, the NH BON’s Program Specialist IV Carol Brody refused to comment.
“So it operates fully like any other nursing program…except that we check in with the board of nursing to let them know our progress,” commented Ricaurte during the interview.
With the lowest passing rates in New Hampshire, KSC’s nursing program is taking some additional steps to improve them.
Rice said there are a few ways the nursing program is attempting to improve the passing rate, such as through faculty development, tutoring and test preparation.
“This group of seniors are being offered professional tutors. We’ve hired professional tutors, which I think they do practically every year anyway,” said Rice.
“And the faculty’s offering tutoring support as well…,” commented Ricaurte.
The exam, offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, or the NCSBN, covers all areas of nursing such as “medical surgical, obstetrics, pediatrics…,” as said by Rice, who all described the exam as “…heavy-duty…high stakes…”
Before students can enter the pre-licensure program, they must pass the TEAS test, or the Test of Essential Academic Skills. Rice says it is “predictive of students and how well they’re going to do in nursing classes.”
Once students have passed and are admitted into the program, they are offered various tests to prepare them for the NCLEX-RN.
One of these tests is the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI), which “offers a wide variety of NCLEX preparation assessments during nursing school. These assessments not only prepare students for the NCLEX, but they also help them gain critical thinking skills and a comprehensive nursing knowledge base needed to be a great nurse,” according to ATI’s During Nursing School section of their website.
“They get lots of extra…opportunities to do that,” said Rice. “Then, we have these predictor exams. Predictor exams, students take them and it tells us what is the…percentage of a chance that they will pass the exam…and they also give the students a feedback that says, you know, you’re really good in this area and you need to work on this area and you may work on that area a little more… it gives them a focused review and we use them a lot because we think the students are more apt to really study if they have exams and they have them after each one of the major courses. Those are called content mastery.”
In addition, the nursing program will hold “a four day, intense review…,” as said by Rice, called Kaplan. After the seniors graduate, they will return to campus for four days and review for the NCLEX-RN.
First-year pre-nursing major Sydney McGough commented on the extended probation saying, “I still feel pretty good about [the program]. I feel that the state can’t really see the results until they start sending more classes though because they have made changes to the program, but they’re young changes, so your sophomore class and your [first year] class are the ones where the changes are really being implemented–stricter rules, smaller class sizes–all those things are happening in the younger grades.”
Although junior biology major Haley Zanga is not a nursing major, she’s the president of the pre-med club.
“A lot of the people had to leave and change schools because if they didn’t, then there was a risk of them not being to stay in the nursing program… I think it’s terrible for the people that are spending so much money to come to a program here for nursing and they can’t even get accredited,” she said, speaking on how the one-year probation last year affected some of the students.
One former nursing major is junior Ashley Collins. Collins, who now studies biology, said she switched majors because she “felt like the program wasn’t going to be… accredited anymore.” She felt that she would have more options as a biology major, and eventually aims to be a pediatric surgeon. She also noted that when nursing students go to transfer to another institution, many of their nursing credits do not transfer.
“I also feel bad for everyone that’s in there… I feel like the directors of the nursing program were kind of sugarcoating everything more than they should have because I’m one of those people that if it’s not working out, tell me about it. Don’t sugarcoat things to make me want to stay when, in reality, you could be screwing up my future,” she said.
Three nursing majors were asked for comment, but all neglected to respond. Another nursing major did not want to talk about the subject.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org