The health profession is constantly changing and to keep up with those changes, nursing students are now facing some tougher exams.
The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a test that nursing students must pass in order to practice on real patients in the real world after graduation. Each question on the revised exam has higher stakes.
"For decades, nursing has used the nursing process, but for a while now, it shifted to the clinical judgment model," Pam Greene, assistant professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi's College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said. "The student will need to identify what’s important, what assessment data they need and how to interpret that."
To prepare their students for the harder exam, the College of Nursing has given practice tests to their students with questions similar to what they will see on the NCLEX.
They also have a group of five faculty members they call their “champions” who evaluate training and recommend them back to the university so the college can better write questions and interpret data for students to practice.
The college also made their classes more rigorous, especially those in the clinical setting.
"All of this is aimed at just basic competency for every registered nurse to say they're ready to enter practice," Greene said.
Every test is different, some longer and some shorter, depending on the test takers progress during the exam — it measures as it goes.
The students said they know the exam will be challenging, but rewarding.
"It's pretty scary because no one is there to guide us or give us any insider as to how it will look," Kaitie Wheeler, 5th semester nursing student at TAMU-CC said. "Not every situation that you encounter at the hospital is black and white, there is always that grey area. You can’t be textbook oriented. You have to be well rounded and know how to think so when you come across that grey area, you know how to handle it."
And other students agree.
"It'll definitely be different. It’ll be much more testing your critical thinking and it’ll help people be more ready to practice," Blake Todd, 4th semester nursing student at TAMU-CC said.
TAMU-CC encourages students to take the NCLEX after graduation so they can start the rest of their lives soon after that.