Technology Preparing Future Nurses

Morgan Harding, Print Editor

Investment in the nursing department is yielding big payoffs as the department is honored with awards and recently graduated nursing students have surpassed both the state and national averages for pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Recent BSN graduates achieved 98.3 percent pass rate for firsttime test-takers who took the NCLEX-RN examination between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012. Graduates surpassed both the average national pass rate of 92.07 percent and the average pass rate in Pennsylvania of 90.79. This is the second year in a row that the nursing program’s pass rates exceed the state and national averages.

The NCLEX-RN was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to ensure the public’s protection. To receive a permanent certification, a nursing candidate must pass an examination that measures the competencies newly licensed, entry-level nurses have to perform safely and effectively, according to NCSBN.

“The more rigorous standards are a sign of the times in health care. Nurses are tasked with added responsibilities in hospital and clinical settings, so the licensure examination reflects those added challenges,’’ Cynthia Mailloux, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Nursing, said.

Misericordia has invested significant dollars into technology, specialized instruction and labs for nursing students, according to Mailloux.

The nursing department, housed in John J. Passan Hall, features a third-floor suite with the state-of-the-art Erwine Nursing Lab and Classroom with eight hospital beds and high-tech bedside technology, including health-care informatics.

Future nurses also gain hands-on experience in two simulator labs that feature a full-size SimMan and SimBaby. Additional laboratory space is available to nursing students and all health science and medical science majors in the new Patient Assessment Laboratory in the Passan Hall Annex.

“Our students’ pass rates are a direct reflection of their hard work and determination, and the university’s investment in our program. The program’s curriculum has also been revised in recent years to reflect trends in health care, changes in accreditation standards, and the integration of technology,” said Mailloux.

Junior nursing majors Tamara Bradley and Marissa Ewing feel the Sim Labs are important resources for students studying to become nurses.

“Sim lab allows us to experience a hands-on situation where you can learn how to work with more critical patients without the fear of making a mistake,” said Ewing.

Sim labs are not only useful for those participating in them. They also provide a unique learning experience for those watching from another room.

“There is so much technology that is involved in a Sim lab. It’s amazing to think that we can perform all necessary nursing skills on SimMan. It’s experience that would be hard to have otherwise. I’m glad Misericordia offers this experience,” said Bradley.

In addition to a higher then average pass rate, the nursing department has been recognized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).The award recognizes outstanding work of AACN member schools to re-envision traditional models for nursing education and lead programmatic change. Winners receive a $1,000 monetary prize.

Members of the nursing faculty strive for innovative ways to present key topics in nursing education and being a member and participating with the Northeast Pennsylvania Interprofessional Education Coalition Summit isone way staff members help students meet the Institute of Medicine’s objectives of collaborative and interdisciplinary health care
initiatives, according to Mailloux.

“Our students get to apply relationship-building values to learn how to work together as a team of health care providers in order todeliver safe and effective treatment over several disciplines,’’ said Mailloux. “In addition to this experience, Professor Sheikh also provides a second Interprofessional Education experience to our nursing and speech-language
pathology students by introducing concepts of pharmacology to both groups of students.’’

The Northeast Pennsylvania Interprofessional Education Coalition is a regional collaboration of 14 colleges and universities in northeastern Pennsylvania that fosters collaborative relationships among educational programs in various health care professions, including nursing, physician assistant, speech-language pathology, medical imaging, physical and occupational therapy, and more.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, especially since they are our national accrediting body,’’ said Mailloux, who,
along with Kathy Sheikh, M.S.N., C.R.N.P., assistant professor, received the award. “The nursing faculty is dedicated to educating and developing clinically proficient nurses who also provide compassionate care to their patients and their family members.’’

Misericordia has the oldest nursing program in the area and graduates more students in the health sciences than any other college or university in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is regionally acclaimed and nationally recognized for its dedication to training eminently qualified practitioners in myriad fields.

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