Friday, March 25, 2011

ADN student Ashley Bates in lab with human patient simulator.

Tri-County Health Ed. Grads Often Meet/Exceed State, National Scores on Certification Exams


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           

                                                                          (By Lisa Garrett)

         PENDLETON --- Tri-County Technical College’s Health Education Division graduates continue to meet and/or exceed state and national average scores on certification exams, with four of the programs reporting 100 percent pass rates.

         Graduates of the associate degree Nursing, Practical Nursing (L.P.N.), Expanded Duty Dental Assisting, Medical Assisting, Medical Laboratory Technology, Surgical Technology and Veterinary Technology programs have the opportunity to earn state or national credentials in their field of study by taking a computer adaptive exam which tests their knowledge on entry-level competencies.

         All graduates are strongly encouraged to take their respective certification exam.  Certification usually means a larger salary and the recognition of a credential that most employers require.  Licensure is required for several programs, in addition.

         For the fifth time in a decade, Practical Nursing students who graduated in August report a 100 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensing Exam (NCLEX-PN).  In addition, graduates of the Dental Assisting, Medical Assisting, and Medical Laboratory Technology programs have 100 percent pass rates for 2010.

         “One of the keys to the students’ success is the excellence of our faculty.  Smaller classes and the instructors' constant interaction with cohorts of students contribute to a positive, learning-centered environment," said Dr. Lynn Lewis, dean of the College’s Health Education Division.

         “I’m proud to say that our students continue to hit and exceed the bar in program state and national certification exams,” said Dr. Lewis.  “It is reassuring that we are preparing entry-level, competent and safe graduates.  Effective learning is a ‘two-way street’ that involves student responsibility and faculty expertise.  These scores are important to the graduates as they pursue employment and to the community and employers who appreciate and value Tri-County health education graduates,” said Dr. Lewis. 

Graduates of associate or baccalaureate nursing programs must pass the NCLEX- RN exam to become a registered nurse in the state.  The NCLEX exams for both Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs are computerized, adaptive exams that evaluate a graduate’s basic nursing knowledge and decision-making ability on commonly encountered health-care situations.

         So far, exam scores reveal that the Practical Nursing students who graduated in December have a 100 percent pass rate, also.

Practical Nursing grads’ score ranks above both the state average (95.09%) and the national average (87.06%) figures.

         The College’s Associate degree Nursing department reports an 89 percent pass rate and in 2009 had a 94 percent passing.  The state average is 89.53 percent and the national average is 87 percent.

“I attribute these success rates to the commitment of our students and our faculty’s commitment to our students’ education,” said Janet Fuller, Nursing department head.


 “Our nursing faculty prepares students for this rigorous exam by working with their classes, spending extra time on test-taking skills and applying the classroom skills in the clinical setting.  It’s not unusual for me to call a faculty member and find her still in clinical long after the class has ended.  If a learning opportunity presents itself, our faculty will stay as long as they need to.” 


         “Many transfer students (those who come to Tri-County from other colleges) tell us the overall commitment and accessibility of our faculty are the keys to their success,” added Fuller.

         “I am so pleased with both sets of scores,” said Fuller. “Of course, our goal is for a 100 percent pass rate in associate degree Nursing, but it’s a high-stakes test and I’m proud of our scores and the fact that we continue to meet state and national averages and many times exceed them.” 

Tri-County’s nursing departments are fully accredited by the State Board of Nursing in South Carolina and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.  The Licensed Practical Nursing program will move from the Pendleton Campus to the Easley Campus in fall 2011.

All 12 of Tri-County Technical College’s spring Medical Laboratory Technology graduates earned their national credentials by scoring a 100 percent pass rate on the National Certification Exam administered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). 

         Since 2006 four out of five graduating classes have achieved 100 percent pass rates.  The Class of 2007 achieved a 92 percent pass rate.

         Tri-County ranks higher than the national figures when comparing registry scores.  Tri-County’s mean score was 580 as opposed to the national score of 506.  (A person must score 400 or above to pass the exam.)  Tri-County ranks 100 percent in average scores for this cycle (the last four months) as compared to the 79 percent national average score.

The exam is a computerized, competency-based exam.  Students are tested on seven areas: chemistry, microbiology, hematology, immunohematology, urinalysis, laboratory operations and body fluids.  There are 100 multiple-choice questions to cover these five major areas of clinical laboratory science.

         “We are very proud of our graduates,” said Polly Kay, MLT program coordinator.  “They were a very conscientious group who focused on the details.  We had excellent comments from the facilities where they did their clinical training throughout the year.”

         The MLT program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). 

The College’s most recent graduates of its Medical Assisting program can proudly place the C.M.A. designation after their names.

The 14 graduates of the Class of 2010 received a 100 percent passing score on the American Association of Medical Assistants’ Certification Examination, designating them as Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs).  “Although the credential isn’t mandated for practice, most employers advertise for and request C.M.A.’s in their offices,” said Kaye Bathe, Medical Assisting program coordinator for the College.

“It has been a goal of mine to have a 100 percent pass rate since I came to the program in 2002.  Without a supportive College environment, results like this wouldn’t be possible.  From the first day of class, I campaign for this to be the students’ capstone goal, and I don’t give them another mindset during the year,” said Bathe.

During the exam, students are tested on three components: general, administrative and clinical.  There are 100 questions in each section, she said. 

Students prepare all year for the exam, she said, by training to be good test takers.  “They get a national certification simulation exam that mimics what they will sit for.  You must pass this test to pass our Medical Assisting program.  We also require that students purchase two exam review books.  They also can take online practice exams through the American Association of Medical Assistants’ website. Students take simulated tests that mirror the real exam. They get many opportunities to practice, and it pays off,” she said.

         She attributes the recent high scores to graduates now being able to take the exam sooner rather than later.  “Being able to take the test right after graduation is a real advantage,” she said.  “Now grads can take the test during any month throughout the year.  They self schedule the test, and take it at their convenience.  This creates more opportunities for graduates and for those who need to renew their certification.” 

In 2005, the Medical Assisting program received a maximum seven-year re-accreditation from its national accrediting agency, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

         Dental Assisting grads for 2010 also are celebrating a 100 percent pass rate on the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exam.  “Our students had a 100 percent pass rate on all three parts -- infection control, radiology and general chairside,” said Donna Shannon, Allied Health/Expanded Duty Dental Assisting department head.  Sixteen students took the first two parts and 14 took the last part.  “A passing score means an increased salary and makes them a better candidate in this job market,” Shannon said. The assistants renew their certification by maintaining 12 continuing education credits and paying an annual renewal fee, she said.

         Like the other programs, Shannon uses mock exams and review books as study guides.  “This is a very difficult test,” said Shannon.  “It’s a comprehensive exam with a high level of questions.”

         Last year one student was 15 points away from a perfect score, she said.  According to information from the DANB, Tri-County’s average score on the infection control test was 668, while other accredited schools in the state scored 598.  The national average score on that test was 561.  Tri-County’s average score on the radiology exam was 540, with 529 being the state average and 483 the national average.  Tri-County’s graduates’ scores averaged 483 on the general chairside exam, while state scores averaged 482 and the national average was 464.  Tri-County’s program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

         “It’s an affirmation of hard work on the part of the students and the faculty,” Shannon said.  “It’s a testament to the program and the committed faculty, who really take their roles as educators very seriously.” 

         The graduates of the Veterinary Technology program are eligible to take a national credentialing exam, the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). Tri-County students must pass this national exam before they are eligible to take the state licensure written exam.

According to Dr. Peggy Champion, department head, because the test is taken on a quarterly basis at the student’s convenience, she hasn’t received a full report of scores for the class of 2010. 

Most graduates are working in a variety of veterinary practices in the Upstate. Although many graduates seek employment in veterinary clinics, there are positions available in research, specialty practices, emergency clinics, and zoos or pharmaceutical sales companies and nutrition companies.  There is also the opportunity to transfer to a four-year institution to acquire a bachelor of arts degree in veterinary technology that increases learning and job opportunities for them.

         Ten of the 17 2010 Surgical Technology graduates passed the National Certification Exam.  The goal is to exceed 80 percent (the benchmark) for the exam, said Program Coordinator Cheryln Brown, who noted that she is implementing new study techniques, such as adding more review exams throughout the year, so students can identify areas of weakness to successfully prepare themselves for the comprehensive exam. Tri-County students are required to sit for the exam prior to graduating.

         In October of 2010, the Surgical Technology department received a 10-year continuing accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.  Brown said accreditation evaluators complimented the department on its clinical procedures and state-of-the-art equipment.  In 2006 Tri-County became the first community college in the country to acquire/purchase a surgical simulator and integrate it into its Surgical Technology curriculum.  Commonly used by medical resident students only, the simulator allows students to practice skills used in laparoscopic surgeries in the OR, enhancing their confidence and promoting proficiency.


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