PENDLETON --- Tri-County Technical College's RN and LPN graduates' performance on state board exams exceed both state and national pass rates, according to a year-to-date report released by the SC Board of Nursing.

The College's Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program reports a 90.91 percent pass rate for first-time candidates licensure exam takers between the period of January 1 and December 20, 2015.  The College had 121 graduates who took the exam during that period and became licensed.  According to reports, the state average is 89.27 percent and the national average is 84.51 percent. 

Practical Nursing graduates scored a 92.54 percent pass rate on the NCLEX-PN exam, with the state average being 91.79 percent and the national average 81.89 percent. 

The NCLEX exams for both Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs are computerized exams that test a graduate's basic nursing knowledge and decision-making ability on commonly encountered health-care situations. Graduates of both programs must pass the exam to work as registered nurses and/or LPNs in the state.

Both Nursing Department Head Jackie Rutledge and Practical Nursing Program Coordinator Julie Vernon credit an engaged team of dedicated faculty, intense review sessions and practice testing as departmental strategies for students' success.

Practical Nursing students take classes at the College's Easley and Oconee campuses and Vernon credits the small campuses and one-on-one interaction with longstanding faculty members as contributors to students' academic success.

"I'm proud of our high scores," said Vernon.  "Over the years, we've built a good track record with our NCLEX-PN scores," said Vernon. "I'm proud of our faculty who have experience as both nurses and instructors." 

"Our scores reflect our dedication to student success," added Rutledge. "Faculty work with individual students to help them to be successful." 

 The ADN faculty's decision to incorporate ATI Nursing Education assessment tools and standardized testing in all nursing classes is a way to familiarize students with the NCLEX format and to enhance and fine tune their critical-thinking skills, said Rutledge.  ATI Nursing Education is an assessment tool training program to prepare students to take the NCLEX exam.

  "We've always used ATI but in 2014 we began to incorporate additional assessment tools which really prepared our senior students for the exam," said Rutledge.

She 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.  

Vernon says her department also uses ATI strategies, in addition to a semester-long course that focuses on board review and practice testing. 

 "Practical Nursing remains a popular, strong program," said Vernon, adding that graduates are employed in long-term care facilities, doctor's offices, medical personnel pools, schools and flu clinics.  More than half of her graduates transition to Tri-County's RN program, Vernon said.  

The majority of ADN grads are employed in acute care settings in the tri-county area, Rutledge said.  "We have a good relationship with the facilities in the area.  After students complete their clinicals in hospitals, many seniors are offered jobs there after graduation.  Others transfer to a four-year university to earn a BSN.  At our last advisory committee meeting in December, we received nothing but positive comments and feedback from members, including a faculty member from Clemson University who complimented our graduates on being well prepared when they enter Clemson."

Tri-County's nursing departments are fully accredited by the State Board of Nursing in South Carolina and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.