Payton Clark, News Editor
Since the first graduating class of 1956, the College of Nursing continues to grow successful graduates and nurses.
This past May 2017, all 28 graduates from the nursing school passed the NCLEX exam, a national licensure exam all students must take to receive a license to practice. The exam covers four areas of knowledge, including Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Maintenance, Psychosocial Integrity and Physiological Integrity.
“The NCLEX pass rate is calculated annually so we have until December before we receive this officially,” Dean of the College of Nursing Dr. Lepaine McHenry said. “The national NCLEX pass rate in July 2017 was 88.94 percent, the Oklahoma pass rate was 88.67 percent and OBU is 100 percent.”
Professor Rebecca Coon believes that it’s the goal of every nursing program to have every student pass the NCLEX exam following graduation.
“That is a really big deal that everyone who passed the courses were able to pass the NCLEX,” Coon said. “Whenever that happened, which is really hard, everyone got very excited and recognized all of the hard work we are doing, and it’s paying off.”
While the curriculum and teaching at OBU prepares students to pass their NCLEX, it also prepares them to integrate faith into the practice of nursing itself.
“The ethics of nurses really stand by integrating your faith, and caring for and serving people that are underserved,” Coon said. “The whole process of the Christian liberal arts education is preparing students for their role as a Christian nurse.”
Employers like Integris Baptist Hospital have made clinical partnerships with the program due to the success and quality of OBU nurses.
“That’s something we’re hearing from employers is that they want our students there, they want our graduates there,” Coon said. “There is something different about them, and it shows us that what we’re doing is the right way to do things.”
As a result of the quality education from the Nursing school, OBU graduates are finding great success in employment opportunities post-graduation.
“Most of our students have job offers well before they graduate and others are quickly employed after graduation,” McHenry said. “With such a high need for nurses in Oklahoma and around the country, jobs are plentiful.”
According to Coon, there has been a lot of changes in the processes like test security since Dean McHenry arrived.
“We really work hard to make sure that we are covering the knowledge and doing the things we need to do to prepare them,” Coon said. “We try to make our testing environment as similar to the licensure exam as possible, and obviously it has paid off.”
According to McHenry and the Academic Services Office, there are 266 nursing majors including undergraduate and graduate students for Fall 2017. Nearly 120 of the students are freshmen.
“With our new building, the changes that have happened in our program and 100 percent pass rates, I think it’s attracting people to want to try nursing, which is really exciting,” Coon said. “We’re excited to figure out how we’re going to accommodate those students.”
While the growing number of students interested in nursing can be a struggle when planning clinicals and classes, Coon is confident that the nursing program will continue to raise quality nurses in a time of need.
“Nursing is in a shortage, so we want to be able to put out as many great nurses as we can, but we want to make sure we’re keeping up with the quality we’ve already been producing,” Coon said. “We’re working that out as [the program] grows, and we are very excited to have so many people choosing nursing as their major.”
Since the start of the nursing program, OBU has been committed to giving its nursing students a quality education, with the core elements of good faculty, curriculum and facilities.
“We have put together an excellent team of faculty who are experienced in practitioners, committed to being excellent educators and scholars, teachable, energetic, innovative, and driven,” McHenry said. “But more importantly, they are individuals who love the Lord, enjoy students, and have a love for teaching. Their willingness to work alongside me as Dean and explore unchartered territory has opened many opportunities.”
In attempts to strengthen the education, the nursing program is currently undergoing revision to their entire curriculum.
“This process is time consuming as the faculty explore the literature to review various models in nursing education to ensure we are using best practices to equip our students with the best educational experience,” McHenry said.
Finally, the facilities in which students learn is vital to delivering students a quality education.
“Stavros has afforded us a marvelous opportunity to educate and train our students in a world class simulation center, classrooms, and computer classroom,” McHenry said. “It is second to none and we are working to exploit its potential to benefit our students.”
Nursing alumni often come to speak to the Student Nursing Association, giving encouragement and feedback about their experience in the workplace.
“Their feedback has reinforced the value of developing critical thinking skills, socialization to the profession, the value of integrating faith into their profession,” McHenry said. “Alums have also reported the value of the simulation experience and how it has boosted their confidence. This is what we are hoping to continue to hear.”
As times continue to change, McHenry says the school is working hard to prepare students for any nursing environment they might be in.
“With the constant changes in healthcare, the type nurse that graduated from OBU five years ago is not the type nurse health care providers need today,” McHenry said. “We are working closely with healthcare providers to understand what they need in the healthcare setting so that we can make adjustments to meet those needs.”