In 2015, every single nursing student in a Goshen College graduating class passed the nursing board exam. GC became only one of four colleges or universities in Indiana to score 100 percent on the nursing board exam, joining schools such as Ivy Tech Community College of Evansville, Ivy Tech Community College of Richmond and Marion Community School of Practical Nursing.

Before graduating from the nursing program, students must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses, often referred to as the NCLEX. This exam is based on safety and patient care management, pharmacology, recognizing and reducing risks, health promotion, managing complex care and principles of physiology; all of which are extremely important skills to have as a registered healthcare professional.

Compared to national averages, the Goshen College nursing department outperformed schools from all around the nation. The passing percentages from this year (100 percent) and last year (95 percent) far outweigh the national averages of 73.44 percent passing rate in 2015 and 68.95 percent in 2014.

Students in both classes set a high standard for the college. “Students are very excited from this class, and they have reason to be proud of themselves.” said Brenda Srof, professor of nursing and department chair. “The other thing is that the faculty here have worked very hard to accomplish this goal.”

According to the website for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, in order to pass the NCLEX, the student must answer a minimum of 75 out of a maximum of 205 questions and achieve the competency level above the passing standard. The exam, which takes roughly 3 hours to complete, is administered by a computerized adaptive testing system that measures how well the student did on the previous questions and adjusts the exam accordingly. By testing in this manner, the student’s true ability will be tested, rather than having questions that are too easy or too hard.

In response to the results from the past six years in which the NCLEX passing rates for the GC nursing department have varied from 72 percent to 90 percent, Srof started a campaign a few years ago involving posters and purple keychains that said “Why not 100 percent?” When asked about the reason for the new campaign, Srof said “Anything we can do to encourage students, to give them more confidence, and also to give them the idea that we are about excellence. That’s really what it’s about.”

Goshen works to encourage students to do their best, both on the NCLEX and as nurses in the future. Despite the need for good passing rates on the exam, Srof downplayed the idea that success on a test predicts the caliber of a good nurse. “There is not necessarily always a correlation between passing the test and the makings of a great nurse,” she said. “There are other things that make a great nurse too, like emotional intelligence.”

However, Srof also said that “[We are about] excellence in passing the NCLEX but also excellence in giving compassionate care.”

Goshen College’s nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. In order to maintain accreditation, the commission requires an 80 percent pass rate on the NCLEX, meaning that the standard for excellence that Goshen strives for is an important factor that incoming students would be wise to take into consideration. From the perspective of an incoming student that is looking at various colleges, it is important to see how students have scored on the exam given that higher success rates are often indicative of a better nursing program.

Due to these past two years of successful passing rates, Srof said Goshen nursing classes are sure to work hard to keep the high success rate up.  “The next class wants to live up to that.” Srof said.