Low test scores challenge Nursing Department

By Gil Milanes

East Los Angeles College’s nursing program was placed on warning by the California Board of Registered Nursing (CBRN) with intent to close down the program.

Nursing students at ELAC are at risk of losing the program if the average test scores during the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) don’t improve.

Once the nursing student completes the accredited nursing degree, the student must take the NCLEX test, which will determine whether the students are prepared for an entry level ursing position.

In the past five years, the average test scores of students who have taken the exam for the first time have failed to meet the CBRN minimum requirement of a 75 percent passing rate. The Nursing Department in 2012 was the only exception with a passing average of 82.26 percent.

The CBRN requires that while the nursing program is on warning, ELAC nursing chair Lurelean B. Gaines, must submit a quarterly report explaining measures taken in order to improve the program.

“We are doing everything we can do. We send emails, invite students back to use our lab, review our videos,” said Gaines.

Once the students finish with the program, they must wait at least four to seven months before the CBRN schedules dates for testing, Gaines said.

During those months, students should continue to study and review all the information learned at the nursing program.

“We can’t force students to come back and help them once they have finished the program. They have met all the criteria for passing the program, but they are not meeting the standard when taking the national exam,” said Gaines.

Failing the test not only affects the student directly, it also affects the ELAC nursing program by bringing down the college’s average. The students can take the exam multiple times, but the CBRN will only use the score from the first test toward the school’s average.

One major challenge for nursing student Gerri De Alba is memorizing information.

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of homework, a lot of studying. The tests are not easy. I can imagine all of the studying needed for the NCLEX,” said De Alba.

De Alba also mentioned that it doesn’t help when the BRN takes long to schedule the testing.

“All this information that you acquired, you can (easily) lose,” said De Alba.

Gaines is optimistic that the nursing program will remain available. Applications will be accepted in January for the spring semester.

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