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February 5, 2009
By Claudene Wharton
While the outlook for higher education in Nevada is somewhat precarious in the face of the current budget crisis, the University of Nevada, Reno's Orvis School of Nursing has something to cheer about. In 2008, a whopping 91.67 percent of its bachelor of science in nursing graduates taking the challenging National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam for the first time achieved passing scores.
Passing the NCLEX-RN exam is required for those seeking a license to practice as registered nurses (RNs). It is developed by The National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
"This excellent pass rate not only shows the rigor of our undergraduate program in preparing our students to be RNs, but it also shows that our undergraduate program provides a strong foundation for our graduate programs," said Patsy Ruchala, director of the Orvis School of Nursing. "We are proud that our graduates had the highest pass rate of any bachelor of science in nursing program in the state and that our pass rate was substantially higher than the national average of 86.7 percent."
The school accepts 96 candidates into its bachelor of science in nursing program each year, but receives about double or triple that many applicants. The school doubled the number of candidates it accepts into its program annually in 2004, at the request of the Nevada Legislature.
Nevada's need for nurses is well documented, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources Service Administration projecting that, by the year 2020, the number of Nevada registered nurses in Nevada will fall 27.5 percent below the state's actual need.
"The local hospitals come in and recruit our students throughout the year," stated Ruchala. "Our graduates are definitely sought after by our Nevada hospitals, and we're happy to be serving the needs of our state."
Founded in 1956, the Orvis School of Nursing is the oldest school of nursing in the state. Ruchala pointed out that, in concert with the land-grant mission of the University, the school is dedicated to serving the entire state through quality teaching, research and service. She said that the University's bachelor of science in nursing program not only teaches the skills that much of the NCLEX-RN exam tests for, but it also provides its graduates with a well-rounded education in critical thinking, leadership and community health issues.
"Students seeking an education with the sole goal of passing the NCLEX-RN exam may be able to get those skills by obtaining an associate's degree in nursing," Ruchala explained. "However, we have additional goals at the University of Nevada, Reno, including preparing our graduates to be leaders in the field and to go on to pursue a graduate degree if they wish."