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UWA nursing grads achieve 100 percent pass rate on NCLEX

UWA Nursing Student in Lab Room
UWA's spring 2021 graduating class boasts perfect pass rate on board licensure exam, ahead of declining nationwide pass rate


The University of West Alabama’s spring graduates from the Ira D. Pruitt Division of Nursing have all now completed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for Registered Nurses with a 100 percent first-time pass rate for the spring graduating class.

This perfect rate comes in a year when both the state and national pass rates are declining, placing UWA nurses at the top of their field in the state and nationwide, while official statistics show a pass rate of only 84.83 percent nationwide for first time testers for the first quarter of 2021. In a time when the nation faces a continual shortage of licensed nurses, this perfect pass rate, this perfect number, means UWA leads the way in addressing one of the state’s most critical needs.

“This is a remarkable achievement for this class of nurses, and it proves the resilience and excellence that they have demonstrated from day one of their program,” said Dr. Mary Hanks, chair of nursing at UWA. “A perfect pass rate is quite uncommon in even a typical year, but these nurses are the first class to go through a program from start to finish during a pandemic. We challenged them to do things we’ve never challenged anybody to accomplish, and they have done it. We could not be more proud of their achievement.”



Nursing education programs nationwide have experienced restrictions necessitated by pandemic response, including virtual learning, adapted clinical experiences, and approaches that had not yet been in place before COVID-19 changed daily routines, particularly in healthcare. Some have suggested that student nurses would have fewer opportunities or less exposure to critical experiences, but Hanks says faculty at UWA are committed to ensuring student nurses are prepared for their careers.

“Nursing programs are competitive, and the curriculum is extremely challenging,” Hanks said. “There is variation between nursing programs in terms of experiences and methods. But NCLEX is where the playing field is leveled, and every new nurse graduate has to reach that gold standard, no matter where they received their education, whether in a rural setting or one with multiple clinical facilities. We have unique challenges, and our students and faculty at UWA rise to the top to overcome those and excel.”

“Our faculty worked creatively and tirelessly to create additional experiences in a controlled environment, including our lab spaces and simulation room, so our students were prepared,” Hanks said. “We knew with absolute confidence that any student nurse who graduated in May was ready for NCLEX, and more importantly, ready to care for their patients.”



Statistics suggest a downward trend in pass rates nationwide and statewide this year, as well as the past year. In the state of Alabama, a nursing graduate has an unlimited window to take the licensure exam but can be hired as an RN with a temporary license upon graduation for six months. If the new nurse graduate does not pass on the first attempt, the temporary license is revoked and the new nurse graduate cannot work as an RN while waiting 45 days to take the exam again. This equates to lost jobs and income, and an attempt to take the exam after having been out of the classroom for many months.

“A nursing degree is different from most in that upon graduation, licensure is still required to practice the profession,” Hanks explained. “We must prepare our student nurses not simply for earning an associate or bachelor’s degree, but also to have the knowledge and abilities they need to become licensed nurses by passing NCLEX. If our nurses are not prepared to pass NCLEX on their first attempt, then they experience major setbacks in their career and livelihood, and those are difficult challenges to overcome.”



UWA offers an associate degree and a bachelor of science in nursing. Students can earn an associate degree in nursing in just two years (five semesters) to then pursue NCLEX licensure and become a registered nurse. Upon completion of the associate degree and passing NCLEX, students can also pursue a bachelor’s degree through the RN to BSN program, which is offered online to accommodate RNs who are already working full time. The BSN provides increased credentials that lead to higher wages, supervisory roles, and opportunities for growth in many healthcare fields.


Learn more about UWA’s Division of Nursing 

Apply for admission to UWA’s Associate Degree in Nursing

Learn more about the UWA RN-BSN Program