Ninety-five percent of the Tennessee Tech University nursing students who sat for the National Council Licensure Examination this year passed to get their registered nurse licenses, but the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing is changing its program to raise the number even more.
Beginning in the fall, the upper-division nursing program will switch from four semesters to five in an effort to increase retention and to lower student stress levels, according to school director Sherry Gaines.
“We want to spread the program out to help students,” Gaines said. “When students begin, they are learning the basics and at the same time they are in a rather complex medical/surgical nursing class.”
Exam pass rates from the TTU nursing school have always been high, hovering around at least 95 percent, but nursing faculty hope to make that achievement easier on students studying for the exam.
The program change will not require students to enroll in an extra semester. They will begin their nursing classes the second semester of their sophomore year instead of the first semester of their junior year. Before they are accepted into the nursing program, they must complete the general education classes required of all TTU majors.
“They will get into nursing faster, which is something students want,” Gaines said. “The draw is that you know you’re in the upper division program sooner. The sequence of coursework is more logical.”
The change will also bring TTU’s program in line with most of the other Tennessee Board of Regents universities.
After the program shifts its timeline, there will be room for the upper-division nursing program to expand, according to Gaines. The same number of students – between 40 and 50 – will graduate every year, but because students begin taking classes sooner, more will be enrolled in the program at the same time. There are about 200 students in the upper division; by 2015, there will be about 240.