As the nursing department chair at Brigham Young University – Idaho (BYU-I), Erin Bennion makes it her priority to ensure students not only pass the NCLEX®, but gain the confidence to make the right choices in the clinical setting. By changing their curriculum to include Elsevier digital solutions and lean on HESI data, Bennion found that all courses in the nursing program show a student passing rate above 90% for the HESI Exit Exam, with four classes exceeding a 95% pass rate.
“I tell the students it’s the easy-hard or hard-easy method,” Bennion says. “If it’s hard now we’re preparing you so that the NCLEX is easy. Or, we can make it really easy right now and then the NCLEX is going to be really hard. They get that.”
When the BSN program at BYU-I began integrating Elsevier products in 2015, Bennion had just joined their staff teaching a physical assessment course. At the time, faculty were concerned if HESI testing policy and practices would improve student NCLEX success and whether higher grading standards would discourage students in the program. Bennion says there was a push to lower the test benchmark from 850 to 800.
“I remember being so discouraged—I kept saying let’s go, we can keep it high, we can get students there,” Bennion says. “But there was a big fear that we might have all these students fail.”
Assess & Review
Before they implemented a HESI policy in their department, faculty put together a literature review to examine the impact that HESI exams had on nursing programs around the country and to address department concerns. They found that HESI exams are important indicators, along with analyzing a student’s overall performance, for student success on the NCLEX.
After some time and a strict implementation of their new policy, students met the standard and find themselves more than prepared for the NCLEX.
“I think that gave the faculty a lot of confidence that our new policy was based on research and seeing what was successful at all these other universities throughout the nation,” Bennion says.
Bennion made sure to track student success rates to see the progress they’ve made over time since the new HESI policy has been put into place. She builds trust in the program by placing posters around her department with HESI pass rates. For a department with over 240 students, having faith in a program gives confidence to faculty and students.
Easily accessible data from HESI guides curriculum revision to find weaknesses and strengths across the board, as well as student success through remediation.
If remediation is needed, intervention is made early in the BYU-I nursing program to help tackle problem areas. Remediation through HESI allows faculty to guide students who find it difficult to pass certain areas of the HESI exam and re-emphasizes some of the test-taking strategies that are taught throughout the program.
Apply Clinical Judgment
SimChart and Simulation Learning System (SLS) provide students the tools they need to develop clinical judgment skills and prepare for what they’ll see as a nurse. Simulation tools also relieve faculty of creating a seamless program from scratch, letting them focus more on student success.
“I feel like it’s all kind of one package, like it all just fits together,” Bennion says. “They were all meant to be used together.”
Bennion says students find the case studies to be the most helpful in preparation for HESI exams. In their courses, case studies are given less weight to help students gauge their knowledge in certain areas without putting their grade at risk.
“I think that’s what gets them to think because they’re hard and you have to learn how to prioritize and think about the most important thing. That’s going to transfer over to their practice,” Bennion says.
Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ) is another tool faculty at BYU-I use to prepare students for class. Bennion says she requires students to complete novice level testing before coming to her class and intermediate testing after class so they can fully participate in the lesson with their classmates.
Although it may seem stern, Bennion says holding students to a higher standard, like her mentors did while she was pursuing her nursing education, is how she shows her students that she cares.
“I can see where I started and where I ended and think that teachers that held me accountable actually really cared—they cared enough to expect the best,” Bennion says.
With the help of digital tools, Bennion can hold her students to those same standards that will guide their education and their careers as healthcare professionals.Learn more about Elsevier's Digital Tools for Nursing