The Script: Student pharmacists and nurses achieve top licensure exam scores

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The College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences is celebrating another year of top licensure exam scores for its Class of 2017 student pharmacist and student nurse cohorts.

 “The testing results are reflective of leadership exhibited by faculty of both programs to prepare students for the workforce in an exceptional manner.  I am extremely proud and excited about these results,” said Roger L. Davis, dean of the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences.

Student pharmacists in particular rose ahead of the pack to achieve the top first-time pass rate in the state and the 18th highest pass rate in the nation on the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacy Licensure Exam) in 2017.

Student nurses built on last year’s first-time pass rate of 93.3 percent to perform even better this year with a 95.2 percent rate (as of April 6, 2018) on the NCLEX. Both years’ pass rates were well ahead of the national average, 85 percent, which is the percentage required by the Tennessee Board of Nursing for program approval.

“Our student pharmacists have had a very consistent NAPLEX pass rate, in the mid-90 percent range, since our first graduating class in 2012,” said Tom Campbell, College of Pharmacy associate dean of academic affairs. “Over the past two years, however, the NAPLEX has undergone several changes, with questions added and more emphasis on clinical application questions. These changes have resulted in the national average pass rate falling to the mid-80 percent range.

“At Lipscomb, we work hard every year to train our student pharmacists at a level even deeper than is required to pass the two pharmacy licensure exams, so our scores have remained steady, with a 95.83 percent for 2017, and thus our pass rate standing has risen to the best in the state and one of the best in the nation.”

Preparation for the NAPLEX begins with expert faculty guiding student pharmacists through a challenging, but sound curriculum. In addition, Lipscomb student pharmacists participate in a year-long longitudinal study that involves online lectures, practice quizzes, as well as a review program provided by a third-party vendor and independent study. Faculty devote time to lead students through discussion sessions, and just prior to graduation, P4s devote seven days to intense study for the NAPLEX and jurisprudence exams, the second licensure exam required for pharmacists.

In the School of Nursing, new elements added to the curriculum in the past three years, such as expanded simulation lab hours, new teaching technology, increased accountability with raised skills performance check-offs, a new NCLEX review course and a faculty mentorship program for every junior and senior, has resulted in pass rates in the mid-90 percent range for the past two years.

Curriculum changes to provide more pathophysiology training earlier in the program, the one-on-one mentoring program and constant curriculum evaluation and assessment have resulted in the student nurses impressive scores, said Ruth Corey, executive director of the School of Nursing.

“We allow our students to come into a one-on-one situation and express their needs, desires and problems. And we create a better plan. Once they put that plan into action, we monitor each individual carefully,” said Corey. “The fact that we have a small faculty-to-student ratio is a huge factor in our success. When they get into trouble, we can spend time with them and facilitate their learning on whatever level they need.

To further benefit student nurses, all Lipscomb School of Nursing faculty are currently working to obtain the Certified Nurse Educator certificate from the National League of Nursing, Corey said.

“We carry out constant evaluation and assessment of our curriculum, clinical sites, students and faculty through annual surveys, that ensure we are teaching the most current information and skills for our student nurses,” she said.

To learn more about the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences click here.

To read more stories from The Script, April 2018, edition click here.