PENDLETON -- Associate degree nursing faculty at Tri-County Technical College are celebrating graduates' National Council Licensing Exam (NCLEX - RN) scores that exceed both state and national averages.

The College's Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program reports a 94.67 percent pass rate for first-time exam takers between the period of December 2014 and June 2015.  The College had approximately 100 graduates who took the exam during that period and became licensed.  As of June of this year, the state average is 92.92 percent and the national average is 87.92 percent.  Graduates of associate or baccalaureate nursing programs must pass the NCLEX- RN exam to become a registered nurse in the State.

"I applaud your good work," Tri-County President Ronnie L. Booth said to the faculty. "Knowing that you have trained our students to be exceptional health care providers is a point of professional and personal pride for me.  I know how much you give to the students.  Thanks for unapologetically holding our students to high standards and thank you for making us and your students proud," he said. 

"You bring honor to Tri-County and the associate degree nursing program," said Peggy Deane, former vice president for nursing at AnMed Health and a member of the ADN advisory committee.  "I commend the committed and dedicated faculty.  When I was at AnMed, we were delighted to hire Tri-County graduates.  Nursing means being caring and compassionate and kind.  That's what you are as leaders and that's the graduates you produce.  I commend you and congratulate you," she said.

"I'm proud of our faculty's hard work to prepare students for the licensure exam and the workforce," said Jackie Rutledge, ADN department head.  "Our faculty worked tirelessly to get the students prepared to work in our ever-changing health care field.  I'm proud to be part of the faculty and the team."

One of the department's success strategies was to incorporate ATI assessment tools in all nursing classes to familiarize students with the NCLEX format and to enhance and fine tune their critical-thinking skills.  ATI Nursing Education is an assessment tool training program to prepare students to take the NCLEX exam.  It offers educational products that test students' knowledge in a variety of content areas, such as nursing fundamentals, pediatrics, medical surgical, psychiatric, community health and obstetrical nursing.

Rutledge said in the final class, Nursing 221, students must take a comprehensive predictor test which encompasses material from the past two years.  "It's our first look at how prepared they are to pass the NCLEX on their first attempt.  It also indicates areas students need to work on to be successful," she said.  

They also engage in a live ATI session which is three days of intensive review by ATI educators.  Six weeks before they graduate, they enroll in a virtual ATI course with a personal coach to review content.  "They must receive the green light from their ATI coach before they are ready for the NCLEX.  The 'green light' is tied to their final grade in the Nursing 221 course," said Rutledge. 

"Students take ATI testing seriously because ATI tests are an integral part of our program from the first nursing course to the last nursing course.  We've found ATI testing throughout the program really works," said Rutledge, adding that after experiencing a dip in board scores a year and a half ago, the faculty, as a group, decided to adopt ATI strategies in the curriculum to prepare students to be successful.

            "We like to stay in the 90th or greater percentile for NCLEX-RN scores.  Our goal is always to meet or exceed state and national averages.  We have a good reputation with students being successful in the workplace and with our pass rates for the first-time exam takers who are licensed and want to continue," she said. 

"It's an ongoing process and we've been successful," she said.  "I'm proud of our faculty and students.  Faculty work as a team to make sure our students are successful on the NCLEX and in the workplace."