Graduates of the bachelor of science in nursing program at The University of Texas-Pan American have a 97.4 percent pass rate on the exam they are required to pass to become registered nurses.
Of 44 graduates of the program last December, five were already registered nurses. The remainder, 39 students, took the National Council Licensure Examination between January and March. All but one graduate passed.
"In order to be considered an accredited program by the State Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas, you must maintain at least a 75 percent pass rate (on their first attempt)," said Dr. Carolina Huerta, chair of the Department of Nursing. "I don't know what the national average is at this time.
"The students have three chances (to pass the test), but the first attempt is the only thing that counts in terms of accreditation. The board doesn't care one bit that it took them three tries; it only wants to know if you really prepared them for their first attempt."
The students are graduates of the generic bachelor of science in nursing program the university began in 1992.
"We usually admit about 70 students every spring for the bachelor's program, and that includes about 10 registered nurses who are associate's-degree prepared who are wanting to come back," Huerta said.
"Students have to have at least a 2.5 GPA to even be considered for admission, but most of our students have a 3.0 or above. That's one of the reasons our students have done so well. In addition to the fact that they're getting a good education from us, they have a lot of history in terms of doing well in school."
Pass rates on the certification exam have been high for the last four years, Huerta said.
"In the past four years, the bachelor of science in nursing graduates' NCLEx pass rates have ranged from 88 to 97 percent," she said.
The department also offers a master of science in nursing program for students with bachelor's degrees who are interested in continuing their education. The MSN has two options, a well established adult health nursing track and a new family nurse practitioner track that will enroll its first students this fall.
The university also offers an associate's degree in nursing, which will be phased out in the year 2000.
"The ADNs are getting ready to go take the boards now," Huerta said. "They did very well last year. The students who graduated in May 1997 had a 94 percent pass rate. Those are the latest board results we have on the ADNs."
In addition to accreditation by the State Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas, the university's bachelor's and master's nursing programs are also fully accredited by the National League for Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.