School of Nursing needs to support students better

By The Beacon | April 3, 2014 12:12am

Kimberly Cerruti |

Students in the School of Nursing (SON)  are required to complete ATI examinations towards the end of every semester. By the middle of the last semester in nursing school, students must pass their comprehensive ATI. This test is a predictor of how students will score on their NCLEX, or licensure exam.

Students must pass their ATI on their first try with 72.7 percent (which is roughly a 95 percent passing rate on the NCLEX exam) or retake the exam. If students do not pass on their second attempt, they must pay $275 to take an online course and then retake the test. In addition, if students do not pass they will receive no higher than a B- in the class.

The issue is that the SON does not prepare students adequately for this standardized test. Students must take a preparation for licensure course that meets three times per semester.  In the first class, we were told we needed to study religiously for the comprehensive exam, yet we were not given tips other than we should study ATI review questions. The second preparation class was for us to understand how to apply for our license. I reached out for help and never heard back. I studied dutifully whenever I could, in addition to my graveyard clinical shifts. I am embarrassed to admit I did not pass on my first or second attempt by one or two percent.

In the past month, faculty had to open up an additional classroom for ATI retakes because the number of students failing their first attempt exceeded expectations.

Last year, the SON had one of the lowest NCLEX passing rates in the state of Oregon, according to the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Standardized testing is often a weak point for many, including myself, and I do not always know how to approach studying for ATI, let alone the NCLEX.

We are studying but we need help. The SON should make the online course mandatory as part of our tuition. The course has a higher passing rate than our own university. Why not help us succeed from the beginning?

Either have this class meet more frequently to talk about test taking tips specific to the test, or incorporate the online course in the curriculum. This is an expense I was not counting on, but perhaps if the university incorporated this fee it would not be a shock one month out from graduation.

After my second attempt at the ATI I received a letter from the SON stating,   “(We) encourage you to focus your energy on being successful.” I have focused my energy on being an exceptional nurse, leader and asset to my community for the past four years. I worked diligently with my ATI studies and the outcome did not reflect my study habits. So, SON, help me succeed from the beginning instead of trying to help me when it is too late.

Kimberly Cerruti is a senior nursing major. She can be reached at