Full HESI integration helps St Johns River State College improve nursing students’ opportunity for NCLEX® and career success

Students enjoying class

At-A-Glance Facts

St. Johns River State College, which has three campuses in Florida (Palatka, St. Augustine, and Orange Park), offers an associate degree in nursing.

St. Johns River completely integrates HESI—from admission to exit exam—into its nursing program so students are well positioned to pass NCLEX and begin their career.

The first year St. Johns River State College incorporated HESI into its nursing program the NCLEX pass rate was 100 percent-substantially better than previous years. “When we started using HESI, our scores improved dramatically,” says Kathy Hagy, RN, MSN, CCRN, a nursing instructor at the college. “We went from the 70th percentile to the 96th percentile-higher than state and national averages.”

HESI is fully integrated into St. Johns River’s entire program, starting with using the Admissions Assessment Exam to screen applicants to having seniors take the Exit Exam, which predicts success on NCLEX. HESI Case Studies, Practice Test, Specialty Exams, Patient Reviews, and the Live Review course are all part of the curriculum.

“We chose HESI because it’s statistically solid,” says Hagy. “It helps guide our students’ overall learning, in addition to helping them pass the NCLEX. We use everything HESI has to offer, and we love it.” She adds that instructors at St. Johns ensure students are accountable for their exam results and complete their remediation plan to increase their knowledge. In addition, HESI reports are a key resource for faculty.

Using the HESI Admission Assessment Exam to Evaluate Candidates

All applicants to the St. Johns River program take the HESI Admission Assessment Exam. Students are slotted into three categories on the basis of completion of prerequisite courses, grade point average, and HESI Admission Assessment Exam score. Those in category 1, who are selected first for the program, must have an Admissions Assessment Exam composite score of 85 or better with a score of 85 or better in reading comprehension, a score of 85 or better in essential mathematics, and a score of 80 or better in anatomy and physiology. All scores for those in category 2 must be 80 or better and scores for category 3 applicants must be 75 or better.

Since using the HESI Admission Assessment Exam as part of the point system for admissions, Hagy says, “In classrooms, students are more adequately prepared. We are getting a higher caliber of students.”

Integrating HESI Resources into Each Course

Once admitted, students use many HESI products, including HESI Case Studies and Practice Test in each course. “The Case Studies are relevant and current, and the questions in the Practice Test are very germane,” says Hagy. HESI Specialty Exams account for 5 percent of a student’s grade.

Both students and instructors say HESI benefits extend beyond the didactic portion of coursework. “Students recall what they learned in the HESI Case Studies and Practice Test and apply it in our simulation labs and clinicals,” says Hagy. “HESI is making our students more clinically proficient.”

All seniors must take the HESI Exit Exam twice during their final year. The first exam is given about 3 weeks into the semester. After the first exam, they complete an individualized remediation plan, which includes assigned HESI Patient Reviews, before sitting for the second exam, given 2 to 3 weeks before graduation. Hagy says instructors have worked to develop remediation plans that have “meat to them.”

St. Johns River recommends a score of 900 on the HESI Exit Exam, the same benchmark HESI has found to be 98 percent predictive of passing the NCLEX. All of the students who have scored 900 or more have passed NCLEX. The HESI Exit Exam score accounts for 60 percent of the grade for the final course.

“Our students tell us that the rigor and quality of the HESI Exit Exam questions more effectively prepare them for the NCLEX than the other products we have used,” says Hagy.

Making Full Use of Other HESI Tools

St. Johns River also requires attendance to the HESI Live Review. “We’ve decided all of our students need to use this valuable tool,” says Hagy.

Hagy says St. Johns River faculty finds HESI reports valuable. “They guide us in revising the curriculum. If students are scoring low in an area, we realize we need to revise the content. You can glean a wealth of information from the reports.”

Using HESI to Prepare Students for the Future

“The entire HESI program is adding so much to our students’ preparedness for NCLEX and for their future in nursing,” Hagy concludes. “Each school must decide how to use HESI to best meet their needs, but it’s important to use all the products to get the most benefit.” She taps into her Elsevier representative’s expertise to ensure she is using HESI most effectively.