NMSU nursing program continues to str...

NMSU nursing program continues to strengthen

There are 17 comments on the Las Cruces Sun-News story from Feb 26, 2010, titled NMSU nursing program continues to strengthen. In it, Las Cruces Sun-News reports that:

More than 94 percent of New Mexico State University's nursing students passed their licensure exam on the first try recently, continuing an upward trend.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Las Cruces Sun-News.

I Went To DACC

Albuquerque, NM

#1 Feb 26, 2010
DACC is on its way to 100% pass rates again. All Dec. 2009 graduates that have tested so far have passed on the first try. Go DACC!
Pen Pal

Las Cruces, NM

#2 Feb 26, 2010
The comparison of DACC passing rates is misleading. Before 2009, a significant percentage of students who graduated from the DACC nursing program took the NCLEX and failed. For 2009, DACC raised the standards for graduation, with the result that, this first year, all who graduated passed the NCLEX. In short, higher standards for graduation weeded out those likely to fail the NCLEX. Too bad the reporter did not explain the reason for this higher success rate.

Also too bad that the reporter did not look at the number of students who were admitted to the program over these years and how many graduated and how many passed the NCLEX. It has to say something about DACC and the nursing program if, say, in pre-2009 years, 50 students entered the program, 40 graduated, but only 4 passed the NCLEX; and in 2009, of 50 entering students, only 10 graduated, and all 10 passed the NCLEX.

In short, this article presents good news without any context for understanding just how meaningful it is (or is not).
wagestrength

Glendale, AZ

#3 Feb 26, 2010
Lets get the wages up so these students stick around and work here in LC when they graduate.
Jake

United States

#4 Feb 26, 2010
Exactly right, Pen Pal!! You don't just pass 100% without a little fudging of the statistics that got you there!
Not the whole story

Las Cruces, NM

#5 Feb 26, 2010
"High faculty turnover created instability in the department, Huerta said. "We are all still struggling with retention of faculty..."

DACC is struggling *mainly* because 1) DACC's standards have been so (students could make C's in all their science courses and still get into the nursing program) and
2) because DACC students have been trained to complain their way to higher grades and to always blame the instructor.

DACC still isn't out of the woods; DACC has now had three nursing program directors in three years. We will see what next year brings.
LC Native

Albuquerque, NM

#6 Feb 26, 2010
You can't practice nursing without passing the national exam. Past students who graduated without passing the exam cannot get nursing jobs even though that's what their degree is in. Thankful, the students that didn't pass the exam aren't nurses, because you don't need to be in the hospitable sick and your nurse not knowing how to take care of you,
Concerned

Albuquerque, NM

#7 Feb 26, 2010
Stellar board pass rates, but at what expense? Yours.

This is how NMSU Nursing really works, and how you all are being fooled.

Ask anyone who has, or is, working towards their Registered Nurse degree. It's difficult from the start. It's fairly well known that there is a nursing shortage. Finding competent faculty that will leave a well paying job in a hospital for pennies on the dollar to teach is rare. There are many more students that desire a nursing education than there are spots in classrooms. Nursing school admission is competitive. We all want the brightest, talented, and most caring nurses taking care of us and our family and friends when we are sick. Each semester NMSU nursing students work their butts off to be those caregivers for your future. Expectations for nursing students are extremely high. Getting less than a 76% in a class means you don't progress on, you repeat a semester. The way it should be. Again, we want the best and brightest taking care of us right?

Unfortunately, the board pass rate in the mid 90s is just a smoke and mirrors game by the administration at NMSU. The way the nursing school really operates is an embarrassing disorganized disaster from the top down. Although things look better on paper, the reality is it's just a manipulation of numbers.

When a new nursing student starts the program, he or she has to get a 76% or better in every class to continue on to the next semester. The last semester of the program the school requires the student to take an exit exam. This exit exam, called the HESI test, is from a private company whose sales pitch is that students that can pass the HESI will be able to pass the licensure test (NCLEX) and become a nurse in New Mexico. If the student can't pass the HESI, the administration fails the student regardless of how well they have done in the past. A student with a 3.5 GPA who fails the HESI can't graduate the program.

So here is the smoke and mirrors part. The school has a very high pass rate in the mid 90s not because they are doing a great job producing new nurses, but because they are holding back and pushing to the side ones that passed all their classes, made it to the end, and can't pass the HESI. By holding those students back, they never get a chance to take the NCLEX. They never have a chance to pull down the school's board pass rates and our community doesn't gain another career nurse. Look at it this way:

Last semester somewhere around 22 of a 60 student class failed the HESI exam. Every one of those students that took the test had passed every single course through their nursing education at NMSU. Whose fault is that? Poor teaching and administration, or poor quality students?

How does a student pass all their classes to be held back at the end for the sole purpose of touting a high percentage rate in the newspaper?

It's your tax money subsidizing nursing education at NMSU. It's your community waiting for good nurses. It's NMSU holding them up for vanity.
You are right

Las Cruces, NM

#8 Feb 26, 2010
LC Native wrote:
You can't practice nursing without passing the national exam. Past students who graduated without passing the exam cannot get nursing jobs even though that's what their degree is in. Thankful, the students that didn't pass the exam aren't nurses, because you don't need to be in the hospitable sick and your nurse not knowing how to take care of you,
Which is what a previously poster pointed out about DACC. The DACC pass rate was about 50%, so the nursing program director washed out half the students...and the pass rate went up to 100%...for a semester.

But that director was then shown the door after one year at DACC. In fact, one major reason for the high turnover of instructors is that students who can't pass complain that instructors are making the courses too hard...even though making the courses easier means that more students will graduate...and then won't pass the national exam.
student

United States

#9 Feb 26, 2010
I was a recent student in NMSU's nursing program and agree with the previous post. I was a A/B student who failed the HESI multiple times. There was very little support from the school and fellow clasmates struggled to pass that test were pushed aside while they brought in new students. From a student standpoint, it's discouraging to spend years of your life working hard to be held back at the end. I had to take out loans for school and felt that I was a good student getting those A's and B's in my classes. Then I watched as many of my classmates who also had strong grades were held back so the school could show off a higher board pass rate. It's not fair to us. The school has some great teachers, but sure could use some better ones. The NCLEX pass rate should be a fair representation of how the school is doing and it just isn't. The joke is on the students that choose NMSU for their education reading news articles like this one. If you want to do a nursing program, ask the schools what their attrition rate is. Find out how many students go in and come out with that degree. You can have 100 students enter and 1 leave and if that 1 passes the NCLEX you have your 100% pass rate on paper.
NMSU

Albuquerque, NM

#10 Feb 26, 2010
My friend was at NMSU and did well in her classes.... She was one of the ones that got held back at the end because of that exit test. Now she has a ton of loans to pay back and i don't think she is continuing with nursing because she cant afford it. She would have been a good nurse.
No Surprise

Las Cruces, NM

#11 Feb 26, 2010
Pen Pal wrote:
The comparison of DACC passing rates is misleading. Before 2009, a significant percentage of students who graduated from the DACC nursing program took the NCLEX and failed. For 2009, DACC raised the standards for graduation, with the result that, this first year, all who graduated passed the NCLEX. In short, higher standards for graduation weeded out those likely to fail the NCLEX. Too bad the reporter did not explain the reason for this higher success rate.
Also too bad that the reporter did not look at the number of students who were admitted to the program over these years and how many graduated and how many passed the NCLEX. It has to say something about DACC and the nursing program if, say, in pre-2009 years, 50 students entered the program, 40 graduated, but only 4 passed the NCLEX; and in 2009, of 50 entering students, only 10 graduated, and all 10 passed the NCLEX.
In short, this article presents good news without any context for understanding just how meaningful it is (or is not).
Pen Pal, you work at the paper, don't you?? You know they don't have the money to pay for the kind of investigative work & time that needed to go into this story. You of all people should know better!!
StudentNurse

Los Alamos, NM

#12 Feb 27, 2010
I AM in the nursing program at NMSU's main campus, and I could not agree more with 'penpal' or 'student'. All Dr. Keller cares about is reputation. Yes, they have a high percentage of students passing the NCLEX. What's not being said is that many of the students aren't allowed to even take the NCLEX because of the HESI exams.
That isn't to say that these students are incompetent. In fact, I know of many students that will be damn good nurses, yet are struggling with the standard exams. I also know of several students that will be, in my honest opinion, appallingly substandard as health care professionals.
So, look at the real percentages. How many people join the nursing program, and how many are filtered out so that the school might look good?
DACC Grad

Las Cruces, NM

#13 Feb 27, 2010
Here we go again with Dr. Huerta taking the credit for the new found success of the DACC nursing program. What a joke. The hard work of the faculty is the reason those pass rates went up not because of anything done by the administration. I am a graduate of the DACC program and passed my NCLEX exam on the first attempt. I was a student during a time when there was a lot of change and turmoil. I was one of the few who did graduate in my class. I attended classes and clinicals beside some of those students who didn't pass and am the first to say that I wouldn't want them taking care of me so it is a good thing they didnt pass.
But don't worry, the pass rates at DACC will go down again because the administration ran off the best faculty they had there. John Scarbrough was the HARDEST teacher I ever had but I learned so much from him. If students really wanted to learn he would do anything he could to help them but he wasn't going to just let them slide by without trying. Gina Fullbright was a wonderful director of the program. She knew us students by name and wanted all of us to do well. She was the best thing that happened to that program and the faculty and students liked and respected her. My former classmates have told me that the program has taken a nose dive and that the faculty don't even get along.
I hear that John and Gina are both teaching at NMSU as well as some of the other faculty that left or got ran off by Dr. Huerta. Good for NMSU. Is it a surprise your pass rates went up. They will continue to be good if you keep faculty like them there.
Shame on you Dr. Huerta. The credit for any success in that program does not belong to you. Three directors in three years? High faculty turnover? Why is it exactly that these wonderful people left? I think its time someone starts looking at how that college is operated.
NMSU 8th semester student

Albuquerque, NM

#14 Feb 27, 2010
I did mention to the reporter that you can't take the statistics without looking at the other numbers. There are numerous people who don't pass the HESI and never make it to the NCLEX which should be taken into consideration. I wish that this article didn't just tell the passing rates. I also mentioned that the entire program weeds out students from the beginning. My 5th semester class was about 52 people and now in 8th semester, there are only about 20 of those original 52 that are still with us. They either are redoing a previous semester or stopped the program all together.
Future BSN-RN

Albuquerque, NM

#15 Mar 1, 2010
I, too, am a student in the BSN program on the main campus, and liek others, I do have misgivings. I've made attempts to understand how things operate - why some decisions are made (or not made) and weigh that against the kind of education I want to receive. My conclusion is that I am the one ultimately in charge of my education and I need to do whatever I have to do in order to make certain I achieve my goal.
I don't understand why MountainView cancelled their contract with NMSU (and DABCC) for the placement of student nurses in clinical rounds. I don't understand why MMC is the only hospital in Las Cruces available to me for such and Del Sol in El Paso. A well rounded nurse should be exposed to all levels and types of nursing care, should they not?
My solution to that particular point of concern is to network and seek out internships / providers who are kind enough to allow me to shadow them in practice so I may observe and learn. I LOVE learning and I already know what areas of nursing are of greatest interest to me.
I am concerned about some of the faculty in both programs. Some lack sufficient clinical experience - others lack interpersonal skills. One instructor at the ADN program at the Branch - HOW he became a nurse in the first place is beyond me, but he certainly can't teach which is a disservice to the students and the public at large. A warm body to fill a position doesn't imply competence.
My answer to the sometimes weak lecture and / or clinical skills I may find in instructors is to watch those of other faculty and seek out their assistance as they have time. Is it a perfect solution? No. I realize they have other obligations - other classes and students, and I try to be mindful of that when seeking their assistance. Previous commenters are correct - Gina Fullbright and John Scarborough are the BEST instructors this University has to offer. The University (NMSU) would do well to keep sight of that fact and do whatever it takes to retain them. Leadership at the Branch chose to ignore the obvious and students in their program are paying the price for that lack of wisdom.
Future BSN-RN

Albuquerque, NM

#16 Mar 1, 2010
The credit for the NCLEX pass rates TRULY belongs to the students - not to the programs they happened to graduate from. No School of Nursing will be able to effectively teach to a NCLEX test that is constantly changing. Students have to develop the skills necessary to think like a clinician and know how to select the most reasonable answer of the options provided.
HESI testing merely allowed NMSU, and now, because of the efforts of Gina Fullbright during her tenure as Director of the ADN program, DABCC to test the knowledge / test-taking abilities of students and hold those who do not pass the test behind. Passing the HESI doesn't make a student competent. It doesn't mean a student will be a good nurse anymore than failing the HESI means they will be a bad one. Not all people are equally good at taking tests. The implementation of HESI testing each semester (and as an exit exam) was done to satisfy a displeased BON when NCLEX scores fell below mandated minimums. Nothing more.
Am I saying that NMSU's School of Nursing is any less of a school (or DABCC's) than UNM's or UTEP's, or Texas Tech's? No. All schools will have their selling points as well as their detractions.
My suggestion to ANY student working towards a nursing degree is that you find what learning style suits you best and run with it. YOU are in charge of your education. YOU know you are entering a profession that will challenge you daily. YOU know what you need to learn, and most instruction is delivered in a "box" style format that isn't necessarily going to meet your learning needs.
Personally, I would rather have the most competent and hardest instructors available, who can push me until I think I've had all I can take - and get me to learn - than to have one that will speak sweetly, become friendly, and do nothing to prepare me for the future.
My best regards to ALL nursing students - current and future alike. May you make your dreams of caring for our communities a reality.
linsome

El Paso, TX

#17 Mar 14, 2010
Yeah how of how many students that graduated???? 5 or 7???? that is great!!!
I Went To DACC wrote:
DACC is on its way to 100% pass rates again. All Dec. 2009 graduates that have tested so far have passed on the first try. Go DACC!

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