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All nursing grads again pass exam

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Students enrolled in this fall's nursing program at College of The Albemarle listen to a presentation on the first day of classes at COA, Wednesday.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, August 21, 2017

For the third time in four years, graduates of College of The Albemarle’s associate degree nursing program had a 100-percent passing rate on the state’s registered nurse licensure exam.

At COA’s Board of Trustees meeting last week college officials celebrated the recent announcement that 100 percent of the program's May 2017 graduates had passed the state nursing board exam.

"We're proud of our students," Katie Miller, coordinator of COA’s associate degree nursing program, said in an interview Friday.

And the college administration is proud of the role the program's faculty and staff play in its success.

"It's a very personalized program," COA President Robert Wynegar said Friday. Faculty members pay close attention to the needs of individual students, he said.

"I'm of course delighted with that," Wynegar said of the 100-percent pass rate. "I'm not surprised, because they have a history of doing that. But I guess I'm surprised that they're able to maintain that level of excellence year after year. It's really remarkable."

Wynegar said the success of nursing graduates on the state licensing exam says a lot about the quality of the program's staff.

He recalled that when he was working in Georgia many of the community colleges there were striving to reach an 85-percent pass rate on Georgia's state licensing exam.

Miller said the 100-percent pass rate is a cause for celebration for faculty, staff and students.

"Nothing is greater than a great, successful year," Miller said. And the success is compounded by graduates moving into the job market and getting jobs, she said.

While the school doesn't track job placement until nine months out in order to give graduates time to find jobs, the job- placement rate for the program is typically 95 percent or higher, she said.

"We have had a good pass rate for many years," Miller said.

Miller said the rate had been 90 percent or higher every year since 2002. The rate was 100 percent not only this year but also in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

In 2016 the rate was 97 percent.

The success that graduates experience when taking the exam may be attributed to a number of factors, including the rigor of the program, the quality of instruction, the dedication and motivation of the students, and support from the college and community in providing great clinical experiences for students, according to Miller.

Students not only have clinical opportunities at Sentara Albemarle Hospital, which is located immediately adjacent to the COA campus on North Road Street in Elizabeth City, but also at hospitals in Edenton, the Outer Banks and Virginia, and a number of rehab facilities and other clinical settings in the community.

"We have a lot of clinical partners in our community," Miller said.

The quality of the clinical experiences helps to solidify the students' knowledge, Miller said.

Among more than 80 nursing schools in North Carolina that offer an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing, eight schools had a 100 percent passing rate on the exam for the second quarter of this year.

The statewide passing rate for students from all the schools is 90 percent, according to information provided by the N.C. Board of Nursing.

Most bachelor’s degree programs in the state have significantly larger classes than the 19-student COA class, but most community college classes are of similar size.

The other seven schools with a 100-percent pass rate were Wingate University, Western Piedmont Community College, Mitchell Community College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Gardner-Webb University, Fayetteville Technical Community College and Carteret Community College.

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